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By Francis Allan L. Angelo

A TOTAL of 16 Iloilo towns and a component city are included in the “hotspot” list of the Police Regional Office (PRO-6).

Supt. Ranulfo Demiar, PRO-6 regional public information officer, said the towns are included in their election watchlist of areas of concern (EWAC) which is being validated by the regional command.

The areas included in the EWAC are classified in two categories: Category 1 for places with high possibility of election-related violent incidents (ERVI) is high while Category 2 areas have history of ERVIs, intense political rivalries and active movement of armed rebels.

In Iloilo, Category 1 areas include Anilao, Dueñas, Estancia, Maasin, Passi City, San Enrique and Tigbauan.

The towns of Bingawan, Calinog, Guimbal, Igbaras, Lambunao, Leon, Miag-ao, San Joaquin, and Tubungan are classified as Category 2 areas.

At total of 48 towns and cities in Western Visayas are included in the PRO-6’s EWAC.

Demiar said some of the areas might be removed from the list depending on the outcome of their validation.

Last Monday, former Estancia mayor Rene Cordero went to the office of PRO-6 Director Isagai R. Cuevas to seek assistance against alleged harassment by his rival, incumbent Mayor Restituto Mosqueda.

Cordero is seeking to recapture the mayorship of Estancia in the May 2010 elections.

Cuevas said he advised Cordero to gather evidence to prove his claims so that the PRO-6 can assess his request.

“They have to show proof before we ca provide security personnel to him,” Cuevas said.

Meanwhile, Presidential Assistant Raul Banias warned politicians against hiring members of the Revolutionary Proletarian Army-Alex Boncayao Brigade (RPA-ABB) in partisan political activities.

Banias said RPA-ABB members who work as bodyguards of politicians are liable for violating the peace agreement between the Philippine government and the rebel group.

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Comelec, PNP validating risk areas

By Francis Allan L. Angelo

THE Commission on Elections (Comelec) and the PNP will start identifying so-called election hotspots in the region.

Atty. Dennis Ausan, Comelec director in Western Visayas, said the move is to prevent another poll-related incident similar to the Maguindanao massacre. As of yesterday, 52 persons were confirmed killed in the gruesome incident.

Ausan said the PNP is helping them validate the lists of possible election areas of concern in the region after these were submitted by provincial and city police offices in Western Visayas to the Police Regional Office (PRO-6).

C/Supt. Isagani Cuevas, PRO-6 director, said they will release the final list after they have studied and assessed the reports of their subordinate units.

The list of hotspots is normally made public during the start of the campaign season but the Comelec and the PNP might publicized it early after what happened in Maguindanao.

The election period officially starts January 10, 2010.

Election hotspots are identified in two categories: Category 1 pertains to areas where the possibility of election-related violent incidents (ERVI) is high; Category 2 areas have a history of ERVIs, intense political rivalries and high probability of occurrence of ERVIs with participation of private armed groups and rebel groups.

ERVIs are incidents which could affect or disrupt the electoral proceedings in the area or create a form of political tension that could eventually upset the electoral process, not only in the site of the incident but also in the surrounding areas during election days.

Aside from drawing up the election areas of concern, the PRO-6 is also keeping tabs of politicians who hire private armies and horde illegal firearms.

Cuevas also advised journalists who will cover areas with intense political rivalries to coordinate with the PNP so they can be provided protection.

“The police will be ready to provide them with security personnel if our media practitioners make the request,” Cuevas said.

At least 18 journalists were confirmed killed in the massacre allegedly perpetrated by the Ampatuan clan against members of the Mangudadatu family.

The journalists were supposed to cover the filing of the certificate of candidacy of Vice Mayor Esmael Mangudadatu of Buluan, Maguindanao who will run for governor versus Datu Unsay Mayor Andal Ampatuan Jr.

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