Sultan Kudarat cops assess possible hotspot areas for May 2016 polls

December 1, 2015 11:29 am 

GENERAL SANTOS CITY, Dec. 1 — Police authorities are closely watching the peace and order situation in parts of Sultan Kudarat province in connection with their security preparations for May 2016 local and national elections.

Sr. Supt. Danny Reyes, Sultan Kudarat police director, said Tuesday they are specifically looking into various security-related concerns that might affect the conduct of next year’s polls in the area.

He said they are currently in the process of identifying the possible election hotspots or areas of immediate concern within the province’s 11 towns and lone city.

“Our main goal is to prevent the possible escalation of violent incidents and ensure safer elections,” he said in a phone interview.

The police official said they are specifically gathering and validating information regarding violent incidents that were recorded in the previous elections in the area.

“This is will serve as basis in determining which localities should be declared as election hotspots,” he said.

The Commission on Elections (Comelec) said the areas of concern are localities wherein poll-related rivalries have started to heat up but were still considered manageable in terms of their overall peace and order situation.

Those classified as election watchlist or hotspot category were areas that were already considered for placement or declaration under Comelec control due to the possible escalation of election-related violence, it said.

In the previous elections, the Philippine National Police (PNP) identified the potential hotspots or areas of immediate concern based on the extent of insurgency problem, the intense political rivalry and records of election-related incidents during the last three elections.

A PNP briefer cited that “the absence of any of the three parameters automatically places an area as just under watch or an election area of concern.”

Reyes said election-related violence could also erupt due to the presence of lawless elements, private armed groups.

As part of their security preparations, he said they are currently monitoring the performance and possible connections of local police personnel to some politicians.

“I will not allow any of our personnel to be used by politicians for their personal interests in line with the elections,” he said.

Reyes said they will make sure that their personnel will only render services in the polling precincts and in securing ballot boxes.

“Rest assured that we are doing everything to ensure that no untoward incident related to the elections would happen within our area of responsibility,” he said.

In the 2010 elections, seven municipalities in the province were declared as election watchlist areas or hotspots due to intense political rivalries and the confirmed presence of armed groups.

In the run-up to the May 2013 elections, several incidents were recorded in the province that were linked to the elections.

The residence of then President Quirino Mayor Emilio Salamanca along Malvar street in Tacurong City was attacked by twice by armed groups in a supposed attempt to derail his re-election bid.(PNA)



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