ILIGAN CITY – Leading politicians in Misamis Occidental welcomed the recommendation of the Philippine National Police (PNP) to declare the province as an election hotspot.
Recently, the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG), which has supervisory control over the PNP, has named Misamis Occidental among the 15 provinces in the country where contests for elective seats could be attended to by heated political tension.
Rep. Loreto Leo Ocampos, local chair of the Liberal Party, said the hotspot declaration should usher in a “freer atmosphere for voters” come election day next year.
Ocampos noted several allegations of voter intimidation “and even harassment on some local media people” during the 2010 polls.
“I am not aware there was such an assessment made by the PNP; I only knew it in the news. But if I were asked, I would have a similar recommendation,” Ocampos told local journalists.
“If that is the assessment of the authorities, so be it,” said vice-governor Henry S. Oaminal when interviewed over radio in Ozamiz City.
At first, Oaminal expressed surprise at the DILG announcement.
“I was just apprehensive that this can have negative impact on the total security image of the province,” he explained.
Oaminal will square off with Ocampos for the congressional seat of the province’s second district.
Areas declared as hotspot will enjoy greater focus from state security forces as the electoral season formally begins January. This is aimed at deterring any untoward incident that could affect the integrity of the electoral exercise.
In case the situation worsens, such areas can be placed under direct control of the Commission on Election (Comelec), thereby giving the poll body complete command of the locality.
“This increased security attention is actually for the sake of the people, for them to totally express in the ballots their real sentiments,” said Ocampos.
“If we want the result of this election to be truly reflective of the voters’ will, then it’s no big deal to be an election hotspot,” Ocampos added.