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Eleksyon 2013

PNP declares 889 areas as 'hotspots' for May polls

January 11, 2013 5:04pm
The Philippine National Police (PNP) has identified 889 poll “hotspots” — or election watch-list areas (EWAs) for the upcoming 2013 elections, most of them from the Ilocos Region.

This was higher than the 558 "hotspots" recorded for the 2010 elections, with 118 in Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) alone.

The latest figure was an increase from the 509 earlier declared as election “hotspots” by the police, according to Senior Superintendent Nestor Bergonia, secretariat head of the Taskforce SAFE (Secure and Fair Elections).

“This list is expected to change when all factors and updates and are considered as elections draws near,” Bergonia said during Thursday's command conference at the Commission on Elections (Comelec) office in Manila.

Task Force SAFE head Superintendent Ager Ontog Jr. said of the 899 “ho spots,” 106 are in the Ilocos Region, 88 in the Eastern Visayas, and 83 in the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao.

He said Central Luzon has 76 “hotspots,” the Bicol Region has 75, Central Visayas has 74, Cagayan Valley has 69, SOCCSKSARGEN has 45, MIRAROPA and Western Visayas have 39, the Cordillera Administrative Region has 38, CALABARZON has 36, and Northern Mindanao has 33.

At the bottom of the are the Zamboanga Peninsula with 28,  the CARAGA Region with 26, and the National Capital Region with six.

Ontog declined to name the municipalities so as not to preempt police operations.

“I would not want to divulge the data and the names and the municipalities because these are purely for law enforcement purposes,” he said.

The PNP determines EWAs based on the occurrence of election violence, intense political rivalry, presence of private armed groups and other threat groups, occurrence of politically motivated violent incidents outside the election period, and the proliferation of firearms.

Loose firearms

PNP records also show that there are 28,000 loose fire arms in the country, most of them in ARMM with 7,830; Eastern Visayas with 4,050; SOCCSKSAGEN with 3,790, Northern Mindanao with 2,010; Davao Region with 1,280; Bicol Region with 1,200; and Central Luzon III with 1,180.

Meanwhile, the NCR has the lowest fire arms at 340, CALABARZON with 480, Cagayan Valley and MIMAROPA with 640 each, and Ilocos Region with 680.

“These firearms are in the needs of criminal groups and other red groups. The PNP is currently working in pushing for estimate of number of loose fire arms down to the municipal level,” Bergonia said.

Political rivalry, private armed groups, gun-for-hire

Meanwhile, the PNP said as of January 7 they have recorded intensified political rivalry in 17 gubernatorial seats, 13 congressional districts, and 163 mayoralty posts.

The police documented 40 incidents of political rivalry involving incumbent government officials since October 1, 2012. A total of 17 incumbent officials, six candidates and nine government employees were killed. Wounded, meanwhile, were 12 incumbent officials, one candidate and 19 civilians.

The PNP said political rivalry occurs “among opposing candidates (that) causes them to maintain armed followers.”

Private armed groups already numbered to 52 active ones – with 913 members and 2,664 firearms – and 128 potential groups, according to results of the joint workshop between the PNP and the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP).

Gun-for-hire groups numbered 73, with 789 members and 357 firearms. The PNP said the New People’s Army, the armed front of the Communist Party of the Philippines, is the largest organized private armed group.

Bergonia said to ensure safe elections, the PNP would intensify law enforcement operations, which includes the Comelec checkpoints to be set up during the gun ban period, intensify internal security operations, enhance PNP-AFP collaboration, ensure maximum deployment of PNP personnel for election duties, among others.

In his closing remarks, Comelec Commissioner Elias Yusoph, who heads the Comelec gun ban committee, said it’s all systems go for the start of the gun ban on Sunday.

The gun ban will coincide with the election period from January 13 to June 12, 2013.

“This command conference has laid down all necessary work for a successful 2013 automated elections. The necessity of operations cannot be overemphasized,” Yusoph said. — KBK, GMA News
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