Only 1 province not a ‘hot spot’ in East Visayas
TACLOBAN CITY—All but one province in Eastern Visayas have been classified as areas of concern for the coming elections in May by police, which
based its definition of a potential hot spot on intense political rivalry, presence of private armed groups and records of violence in previous elections.
Chief Insp. Bell Rentuaya, chief secretary of the directorial staff of the regional police force in Eastern Visayas, said security measures would be doubled in these areas that are now considered as potential flash points.
“We want to have peaceful and orderly elections across the region, not just in these areas,” said Rentuaya.
Of six provinces in Eastern Visayas, only Southern Leyte is not on the list.
On it are 14 towns in Samar, seven in Eastern Samar, 10 in Leyte, nine in Northern Samar and one in Biliran. Also on the list are the cities of Ormoc and Baybay in Leyte and Calbayog in Samar.
Rentuaya said checkpoints would be established in the areas of concern.
Some of the towns on the list are there because of rebel activity, said Rentuaya.
At least 43 cases of gun attacks were reported in Baybay, Ormoc and Calbayog, he said. Election-related shootings were reported in 14 towns in Samar—Basey, Gandara, Hinabangan, Jiabong, Matuguinao, Motiong, Paranas, Pinabacdao, San Jorge, Santa Margarita, Santa Rita, San Jose de Buan, Tagapul-an and Zumarraga.
The 10 towns of Leyte on the list are Albuera, Bato, Burauen, Carigara, Hindang, Inopacan, Jaro, San Isidro, San Miguel and Tabango.
In Eastern Samar, seven made it to the list—Arteche, Can-avid, Dolores, General MacArthur, Jipapad, Taft and Quinapondan.
The capital town of Catarman and the municipalities of Bobon, Capul, Catubig, Laoang, Las Navas, Lope de Vega, Pambujan and Victoria are also on the list.
Only one town in Biliran—Kawayan—was tagged as area of concern.
History of violence
In Bohol, six towns are on the list because of election-related violence during the 2013 elections and intense partisan rivalry.
Supt. Ricky Delilis, spokesperson of the Bohol Provincial Police Office, identified these as the towns of Buenavista, Inabanga, Bilar, Clarin, Antequera and Ubay.
In Buenavista town, five, including a militiaman, were killed by unidentified gunmen three months before the elections in 2013.
Delilis said there are no private armed groups in Bohol that would pose a security threat during the 2016 elections.
He said the only concern are “individuals who could be hired by politicians.”
In Central Luzon, 34 areas are on the election watch list, said Chief Supt. Rudy Lacadin, regional police director.
These were divided into three categories reflecting the degree of intense rivalry and election-related violence in the communities during the 2013 elections.
Lacadin said the list would be reviewed by lawyer Juanito Icaro, incoming regional director of the Commission on Elections (Comelec).
Icaro would replace Temie Lambino who would be assigned as Comelec director for the National Capital Region. With reports from Leo Udtohan, Inquirer Visayas and Tonette Orejas, Inquirer Central Luzon