Cops tag only Davao Sur as poll concern

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DAVAO CITY—Police in Southern Mindanao said on Monday that they were expecting the May elections to be peaceful in the region, except in Davao del Sur.

Chief Superintendent Anselmo Pinili, Southern Mindanao deputy police director, said based on past experiences, including that in the 2010 elections, election-related violence could erupt in Davao del Sur because of intense political rivalry there.

“This is why it is under a close watch,” he said.

But Pinili said not all areas in Davao del Sur are considered hot spots.

He did not identify the areas that are considered hot spots. But in 2007, two supporters of then reelectionist Gov. Douglas Cagas were killed by alleged bodyguards of his rival, former Davao del Sur Rep. Claude Bautista.

Bautista had claimed self-defense in the deaths of then Malita town mayoral candidate Isidro Sarmiento and his son, Danny. Bautista said he was fired upon by the two.

Bautista, who had denied he had a firearm during the clash, said he and his bodyguards went to Isidro’s house in Poblacion, Malita, following reports that the father and son were in possession of stolen certificates of canvass.

The Sarmiento case is still ongoing while Bautista is running in the May gubernatorial elections anew, this time, against 1st district Rep. Marc Douglas Cagas, the governor’s son.

Pinili said the declaration of Davao del Sur as a hot spot was made by the Commission on Elections (Comelec) after a series of meetings on the political situation there.

“It was foreseen that there will be a high possibility of poll-related violence in the area due to intense political rivalry,” he added.

Pinili said police have put in place an elaborate security plan in Davao del Sur, including the establishment of more checkpoints.

He said to prevent rival politicians from hiring private security escorts and further heightening tension, police escorts have been made available to them. Judy Quiros, Inquirer Mindanao

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