Issue of January 13, 2019
     
NEWS
Abra
Benguet
Kalinga
Mt. Province
 
OPINION
 

2018
Panagbenga Flower Festival
 
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PNP, AFP to secure Abra for May polls
by Jane B. Cadalig

Concerned agencies are giving particular attention to Abra in relation to the midterm elections in May.

Commission on Elections-Cordillera Director Julius Torres said the Regional Joint Security Control Center (RJSCC) is not discounting the possibility that Abra will remain a special area of concern for the May polls.

He said it is premature to identify the provinces or towns that may be considered election hotspots, but he added they are not discounting the possibility that Abra will be one of these areas because of the violence involving officials vying for elected posts and their supporters that plagued the province in the past.

“We are not discounting the fact that it will still be in the list of areas of concern,” Torres said.

He expressed hope that while Abra has been under the poll watchlist in the previous elections, the proactive measures implemented by concerned agencies and other stakeholders will be effective in keeping the province peaceful in this year’s elections.

“While Abra has been traditionally in the list of areas of concern during the elections, we are hoping that it will not be included this time,” Torres said.

The RJSCC; composed of the Comelec, Philippine National Police, Armed Forces of the Philippines, and other line agencies; was activated on Jan. 4 as part of the security preparations for the midterm elections.

Abra Provincial Police Office Director, S/Supt. Ceasar Z. Tannagan, said the police will implement the Abra Shield, one of the practices that helped maintain peace in Abra in the 2016 polls.

Tannagan said Abra Shield involved the conduct of random checkpoints in strategic locations all over the province as part of the campaign against loose and undocumented firearms.

Tannagan said the practice will be replicated this year as it has helped lessen election-related violence in Abra in the 2016 elections.

Members of the RJSCC also agreed to craft a unified parameter that will be used in declaring a locality an area of concern.

Police Regional Office-Cordillera Deputy Regional Director for Administration, C/Supt. R’win Pagkalinawan, said it is high time that the RJSCC set parameters to be considered in determining the areas to be included in the election watch list.

Torres said the Joint Peace and Security Control Center (JPSCC), composed of the AFP and the PNP, is the best body that could determine the criteria to be followed in declaring an election area of concern.

“The Comelec is a civilian institution. We simply rely on the history of election-related violence in an area as our basis in determining that a place is an area of concern,” he said.

He said the criteria to be set for the Cordillera will be based on the evaluation of the JPSCC because the situation in each province in the region during the elections is unique.

Torres said the RJSCC will come up with a harmonized criterion in declaring election areas of concern after the JPSCC shall have determined the parameters.

“We will have to wait for the criteria to be set by the JPSCC because the situation in our provinces during the election is extreme. May area na tahimik, may magulo, at may area din na hindi natin maintindihan, so we really have to assess the areas first before we can come up with concrete parameters,” he said.


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