Cebu Daily News - - FRONT PAGE - by Delta Dyrecka Leti­gio, Ador Vin­cent Mayol and Jessa Mae Sotto

Po­lice and mil­i­tary pres­ence will be in­ten­si­fied in 29 towns and cities in Cen­tral Visayas that were de­clared elec­tion watch­list ar­eas (EWAs) based on their his­tory of elec­tion-re­lated in­ci­dents.

Of the num­ber, seven are in Cebu.

These in­clude the cities of Cebu, Man­daue, La­puLapu, and Danao as well as the mu­nic­i­pal­i­ties of Ronda, San Fer­nando, and Tubu­ran.

Ex­cept for Tubu­ran, all EWAs in Cebu were clas­si­fied as “yel­low,” which means that the place had pre­vi­ous elec­tion-re­lated in­ci­dents and in­tense po­lit­i­cal ri­valry, said Chief Supt. De­bold Si­nas, di­rec­tor of the Po­lice Re­gional Of­fice in Cen­tral Visayas (PRO-7).

Tubu­ran, on the other hand, was placed un­der the “or­ange” cat­e­gory with all fac­tors in­di­cated in the first cat­e­gory in­clud­ing armed threats.

No place in the re­gion was put un­der the “red” cat­e­gory, which has all crit­i­cal fac­tors in­clud­ing pro­lif­er­a­tion of firearms.

“The ba­sis of this watch­list is his­tory and the cri­te­ria be­ing given by the po­lice head­quar­ters in Camp Crame in co­or­di­na­tion and con­su­la­tion with Armed Forces of the Philip­pines and the Com­mis­sion on Elec­tions (Com­elec),” said Si­nas in an in­ter­view on Thurs­day.

Gov­ern­ment agen­cies held their co­or­di­nat­ing con­fer­ence at Camp Ser­gio Os­meña, the PRO-7 head­quar­ters in Cebu City, to dis­cuss the se­cu­rity prepa­ra­tions for the May 13, 2019 elec­tions.

Com­elec-7 Di­rec­tor Rafael Olaño said the elec­tion gun ban will take ef­fect on Jan. 30, 2019. The po­lice body­guards of politi­cians would also be re­called on the same day.

“Any­one who wants to be ex­empted from the gun ban can sub­mit their ap­pli­ca­tions now. Those who will qual­ify can be ex­empted,” he said.

Aside from the seven in Cebu, the other lo­cal gov­ern­ment units (LGUs) in the list of 29 towns and cities in Cen­tral Visayas that were de­clared as EWAs in­cluded ten in Ne­gros Ori­en­tal, six in Bo­hol, and six in Siqui­jor.

All EWAs in Ne­gros Ori­en­tal are placed un­der the or­ange cat­e­gory. These are Gui­hul­ngan City, Bais City, Si­a­ton City, Ayun­gon, Can­laon City, Mabi­nay, Tayasan, Sta. Catalina, Zam­boan­guita, and Man­juyod.

Placed un­der the yel­low cat­e­gory in Bo­hol are the towns of Bue­nav­ista, Clarin, Danao, and Pi­lar. Tu­bigon and In­a­banga, also in Bo­hol, are un­der the or­ange cat­e­gory.

All EWAs in Siqui­jor are placed un­der the yel­low cat­e­gory, namely, the towns of En­rique Vil­lanueva, Larena, Lazi, Maria, San Juan, and Siqui­jor.

Si­nas said they are con­stantly mon­i­tor­ing the EWAs to make sure no vi­o­lent in­ci­dents will hap­pen in these ar­eas in the run up to the elec­tions.

“The cat­e­gories could change any­time. We are con­stantly eval­u­at­ing,” he said.

Si­nas said they gath­ered re­ports from the 2016 elec­tions, which they used as ba­sis in iden­ti­fy­ing the EWAs.

“We just could not show the re­ports be­cause they are con­fi­den­tial,” he ex­plained.

CEBU DAILY NEWS tried but failed to reach re­elec­tion­ist Cebu City Mayor To­mas Os­meña, who is cur­rently in Hong Kong.

Re­spect po­lice’s de­ci­sion

Cebu City Vice Mayor Edgardo La­bella, who is run­ning for mayor in next year's polls against Os­meña, wel­comed the in­clu­sion of the city in the EWAs list. La­bella said he re­spects the as­sess­ment made by the po­lice and elec­tion of­fi­cials.

“That is their as­sess­ment. What can we do about it. Maybe they have their own rea­sons for that,” he said. “And we will abide on their rec­om­men­da­tion, es­pe­cially that it is just ap­pro­pri­ate to pro­tect every­one’s sa­cred right to suf­frage,” he added.

Cebu City Coun­cilor Dave Tu­mu­lak, the deputy mayor on po­lice mat­ters, begged off from is­su­ing any state­ment, say­ing he has yet to get the full de­tails on the city’s in­clu­sion in the EWAs list.

Se­nior Supt. Ju­lian En­toma, di­rec­tor of the Man­daue City Po­lice Of­fice (MCPO), said the in­clu­sion of the Man­daue City in the EWAs list was due to “in­tense” po­lit­i­cal ri­valry.

He said the in­clu­sion of the city in the list is in­tended to en­sure the orderly con­duct of the elec­tions.

“We are ex­pect­ing an in­tense po­lit­i­cal ri­valry here,” he said.

Man­daue City Mayor Gabriel Luis “Luigi” Quisumb­ing, for his part, wel­comed the in­clu­sion of the city in the EWAs.

“Given the events of the pre­vi­ous months and the rev­e­la­tions in the city coun­cil yes­ter­day about the pres­ence of or­ga­nized groups and drug syn­di­cates as well as politi­cians al­legedly pro­tect­ing them, I wel­come Man­daue’s in­clu­sion,” said.

“Hope­fully, this will dis­cour­age these groups and nar­copoliti­cians from at­tempt­ing to sub­vert the will of the peo­ple,” he added.

Quisumb­ing is seek­ing re­elec­tion against former mayor and now Sixth District Rep. Jonas Cortes.


Map shows the elec­tion watch­list ar­eas (EWAs) or elec­tion hotspots in Cen­tral Visayas (Re­gion 7). No place in the re­gion has been placed un­der the “red” cat­e­gory.



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