Police: 64 Cordi villages under watch for village polls

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VOTERS from the Cordillera wear their native attire as they cast their ballots at a polling precinct in Baguio City during the May 23 elections. RICHARD BALONGLONG / INQUIRER NORTHERN LUZON

LA TRINIDAD, Benguet—The Cordillera police said 64 villages in six upland provinces have been categorized as election watch-list areas (EWA) in the synchronized barangay (village) and Sangguniang Kabataan elections in October.

Speaking at a news conference, Chief Supt. Benjamin Magalong, Cordillera police director, said these communities in Abra, Apayao and Kalinga provinces were being monitored because of intense political rivalries detected there.

Magalong said the police intended to use conflict mediation conferences, consisting of counseling and dialogues, to help ease tension in these areas.

This was a process used by the Cordillera police to end rivalries in Abra and Kalinga during the May 2013 midterm elections.

The police election report was also presented in Baguio City on Tuesday during an assembly of the Cordillera Regional Peace and Order Council.

Senior Supt. Ernesto Gaab, chief of the regional police intelligence division, said 34 of these villages are in Abra, 16 in Ifugao province, 10 in Mt. Province, three in Kalinga and one in Apayao.

Gaab cited political rivals who are seeking new terms in Barangay Nababalayan in Kabugao, Apayao.

He said the police are also monitoring the activities of suspected private armed groups in Abra, including a new group that offers services such as escorting politicians.

Gaab said the Commission on Elections registered 73,816 new voters for the village polls, raising the total number of upland voters to 998,567 since the midterm elections. Reports from Kim Quitasol and Vincent Cabreza, Inquirer Northern Luzon

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