Bohol in poll watchlist

March 25, 2013 10:46 pm 

Tagbilaran, Bohol, March 25 — The entire province is placed under "poll watchlist" in connection with the forthcoming campaign period for the May 13 elections.

Police Provincial Director Constantino Barot Jr,. confirmed that it is the stiff rivalry between incumbent Governor Edgar Chatto and Carmen Mayor Conchita Toribio-Delos Reyes in the gubernatorial race that made the Regional Intelligence Division (RID) to include all the 47 towns and Tagbilaran City in the poll watchlist.

This is on the belief that the two top contenders would be covering all the 48 areas during the campaign period.

However, Barot explained that there are areas wherein the local leaders and the electorate manifested full support to one of the candidates, making the other give way and would no longer campaign in these areas.

With this, the campaign trend in these areas would be less intense, according to Barot.

The police chief assured to discuss this with Comelec-Bohol officer-in-charge, Atty. Marco Lionel Castillano, so that the RID can scrap some areas in the list.

Castillano, when interviewed by the Chronicle last night, said that he will recommend to stick to the original list wherein four Bohol towns will be in the "watchlist". He identified the towns as Trinidad, Carmen, Buneavista, Danao and Tagbilaran City. In his opinion "he finds it illogical to place the entire province under "watchlist" since the towns of Alicia and Sikatuna don't even have opposing mayoralty bets."

Barot also said they already had initial moves on this and the authorities in the Police Regional Office-7 assured them that it is not as serious as the “hot spot” level.

“They assured us that this is, anyway, just an election watchlist of areas and it doesn’t mean that all these areas are hot spots, or that the entire province is considered hotspot. No,” Barot clarified.

Barot and Castillano further discussed some issues last Friday and tried to find ways how to explain to RID why the Joint Security Control Center in Bohol believes that there is no reason to place the entire province in the poll watchlist.

Within this week, the police chief said he would work it out with the regional authorities.

“We will be doing actions so that the number of Bohol areas in the watchlist would be reduced,” Barot said.

There used to be just 34 areas in the entire Central Visayas region that were in the election watchlist, but it increased to 81 last week with all the 47 towns and one city in Bohol already included “based on the latest count by the RID”.

Aside from Bohol, Siquijor is another province which is placed entirely—with all the six towns—placed in the watchlist.

Also in the watchlist are three component cities, 12 towns and one independent city of Cebu province; and 11 areas in Negros Oriental.

This came after the evaluation and assessment of the situation in the past election conducted by the RID. Another basis is the “presence of Private Armed Groups and presence of communist groups”.

So far, there has been no area in the region recommended for Comelec control yet, even with some recommendations for the towns of Danao, Carmen, Trinidad and Tagbilaran City to be in the EWAs (election watchlist areas).

Identifying areas to be placed in EWAs will depend both on the Philippine National Police (PNP) and the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP).

This was according to Senior Supt. Paul Labra II, RID chief of PRO-7 in his latest statement to the Cebu press.

The PNP and the AFP will hold more conferences to update their assessment on the areas.

PNP intends to double the number of cops in areas in the watchlist “to preempt untoward incidents”.

The PNP will also conduct some lectures in a “pulong-pulong” set up among political candidates to get their commitment for a peaceful election.

Morever, the police also added Comelec checkpoints to monitor violations of Comelec gun ban and prevent crimes, in an effort to have a peaceful election.

This is also one way to deter the movements of the 12 inactive potential private armed groups in the region as identified by the police. This is amid the concern that they might be “activated to serve unscrupulous politicians”.(PNA)



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