PNP eyes areas of concern for 2013 pollsBy Maricar Cinco
Inquirer Southern Luzon
CAMP VICENTE LIM, Laguna—Police are keeping tabs on the “areas of concern” in Calabarzon (Cavite, Laguna, Batangas, Rizal, Quezon) and Mimaropa (Mindoro, Marinduque, Romblon, Palawan) as they draw up a list potential “hot spots” for the May 2013 midterm polls.
Calabarzon police director Chief Supt. James Melad said they noted the political rivalries in Quezon and Cavite provinces involving influential clans gunning against each other for the gubernatorial posts.
Running for governor of Quezon are incumbent David Suarez versus Rep. Irvin Alcala, while in Cavite are Juanito Victor Remulla against Rep. Erineo Maliksi.
Still in Cavite, police are keeping an eye on the cities of Tagaytay and Imus, and the town of Amadeo, said Senior Supt. John Bulalacao, the provincial police director.
“We have at least three parameters (to categorize a town or city) as an area of concern: The character of the contending parties, previous election-related violence and the intensity of political rivalry,” Bulalacao said.
Political rivalry is said to be “intense” between Agnes Tolentino, wife of outgoing Tagaytay Mayor Abraham Tolentino, and Cavite district Rep. Crispin “Boying” Remulla, who are both running for mayor of Tagaytay.
In Imus City, Homer Saquilayan and Emmanuel Maliksi are reprising their old political rivalry over the city’s mayoral post.
Maliksi was proclaimed mayor after the 2010 polls but was ordered unseated by the Commission on Elections (Comelec) last September after it declared Saquilayan as the true winner in that election. Early this week, however, the Supreme Court issued a temporary restraining order that put on hold the Comelec’s order against Maliksi.
The Cavite police, on the other hand, recorded as its first 2013 election-related incident the armed skirmish between the camp of incumbent Amadeo Mayor Benjarde Villanueva and of his rival, Albert Ambagan, on Oct. 9. The incident stemmed from the voters’ registration of the supporters of the two candidates, Bulalacao said.
In Laguna, police director Senior Supt. Fausto Manzanilla said they were monitoring the political atmosphere in San Pablo city, where a Laguna provincial board member was ambushed in June, as well as in San Pedro, where an Association of Barangay Captains president was killed in July.
Also under police watch is Laguna’s fourth district composed of the towns of Cavinti, Famy, Kalayaan, Luisiana, Lumban, Mabitac, Magdalena, Majayjay, Paete, Pagsanjan, Pakil, Pangil, Pila, Sta. Cruz, Santa Maria and Siniloan, due to the presence of the communist New People’s Army.
“The mere presence or influence of insurgents is enough reason to monitor these areas, much more during an election period,” Manzanilla said.
In Mimaropa, regional police director Chief Supt. Melito Mabilin said they were still consolidating the reports of provincial police units to determine possible hot spots in the region.
Initially, he said they were looking into the alleged abduction of a supporter of a mayoral candidate in Bandsud, Oriental Mindoro, as a politically-motivated incident.
He said the police were trying to convince political parties in the region to surrender even their licensed firearms at the start of the campaign period “for safekeeping purposes.”
He also said they have started identifying private armed groups believed to be supported by politicians in the region.