Posted by Bulatlat
Vol. VII, No. 12 April 29-May 5, 2007
DAVAO CITY — As many as 444 barangays (villages) in the Southern Mindanao region have been classified as among so-called “areas of immediate concern” this election season.
The police in the region reported 38 percent of the villages in Southern Mindanao, including those in three cities and 44 municipalities, are affected by armed and election-related threats.
Among the election-related atrocities reported is the shooting incident that victimized a political coordinator of Compostela Valley Representative Manuel Zamora along Diamond St. Golden Plains Subdicvision in Monkayo, Compostela Valley Province on April 16.
Yesterday morning, another incident was reported involving a driver/bodyguard of mayoralty bet Alex Brillantes of Monkayo, Compostela Valley Province. Joven, Lanoy, the victim, was shot by two unidentified men at Sitio Liboton, Monkayo, Compostela Valley Province.
Police regional director Andres Caro said during the AFP/PNP Forum yesterday that his office is preparing security measures to address possible atrocities especially in these areas under close watch.
This early, a peace covenant in every municipality is on its work. The PNP has initiated this effort by inviting different candidates to join the group through a covenant for a clean and honest elections.
Meanwhile, the PNP is tapping the support of the Armed Forces of the Philippines to assist the group in ensuring for a peaceful election.
“Our number is not sufficient to safeguard all the voting polls,“ Caro said. The Commission on Elections (Comelec) reported 1,440 polling centers in the region with a total of 15,846 voting precincts.
“With only 4,000 men in our group, we can only deploy two policemen per polling center,” he said.
However, the presence of the Army few meters away from the polling center is seen as sufficient support for the PNP to secure election areas.
Caro has tasked the Provincial Police Office in Compostela Valley to lead in organizing peace covenants between local candidates.
He said that he directed the Provincial Police office to work with the church and the Commission of Elections to organize peace covenants and candidates’ forum, as he noted the super-heated politics in Compostela Valley or Comval.
Caro has put five municipalities in the province in their watchlist. Among these provinces are Laak, Pantukan, Montevista, Monkayo and New Bataan. The Regional Director has deployed a platoon of policemen coming from the Regional Mobile Group to beef up PNP Comval, which has at least two company-sized Provincial Mobile Groups.
Meanwhile Caro said the PNP are still looking into reports as to the veracity of the reports that there is a threat to the life of Comval Governor Jose Caballero. “It is election period that is normal to alleged that one group is going to kill you or he has armed goons, while the other group will also state the same.” However he said that they are looking closely to the threats received by the Governor.
He said this is one reason why he has instructed his unit commanders in Comval to initiate these peace covenant and forums is to avert untoward election-related violence.
Meanwhile, Comval’s provincial director Police Senior Supt. Superintendent Nestor Quinsay has asked the Comelec to declare the province an area of concern. He based his request on intelligence reports of the PNP Regional Office and the Armed Forces of the Philippines which noted the presence of “serious armed threats” in the area.
“There have been sightings of armed NPAs (New People’s Army) in almost all areas in the province,” he said in a phone interview.
Citing series of recent arms encounter of government forces with the armed rebel group, Quinsay the arms threat has been there even in the past elections.
In presenting its request, The PNP Provincial Command said it wanted force augmentation from the Armed Forces of the Philippines “especially in far-flung areas,” Quinsay explained.
COMELEC provincial election officer Atty. Gay A Enumerables in a separate interview had found relevance to such request noting presence of armed insurgents in the area and the threats they pose to peace and order.
“Indeed there are also a lot of far-flung places in the province and the police are undermanned. They want the military to handle those far-flung places” she added.
COMELEC Regional Director Remlane Tambuang confirmed such PNP request which he said he submitted to the national office just last week.
He withheld his assessment and recommendation regarding it but he agreed it has significance. “It is being concurred by the COMELEC provincial office and we taking cognizance of it.”
However, COMELEC Commission Romeo Brawner has yet to receive such request.
In an interview, he vowed to take immediate action on the request being the COMELEC in-charge for the Davao Region.
“I will take action on it then submit it to the COMELEC en-banc for consideration,” he said.
Brawner was in Davao City yesterday gracing the seminar-workshop of COMELEC election officers in Davao Region.
Brawner said Abra is so far the only province declared as an area of immediate concern while Nueva Ecija is being considered by COMELEC to be placed under the same. (PIA XI/Jeanevive Duron-Abangan ,RG Alama, Mai Gevera. originally posted in davaotoday.com)