DIAMANTE WANTS MORE TROOPS, COPS IN TUBU­RAN

Cebu Daily News - - FRONT PAGE - By Ros­alie Abatayo, Ador Vin­cent Mayol and Morex­ette Marie Er­ram

Tubu­ran Mayor Dem­ocrito Diamante was not sur­prised that his mu­nic­i­pal­ity is once again in the list of elec­tion watch­list ar­eas (EWAs) or hotspots. In fact, he wants more po­lice­men de­ployed in his town in time for next year’s midterm elec­tions.

Diamante said the in­clu­sion of Tubu­ran in EWAs would help main­tain peace and or­der in the north­west­ern Cebu town.

“There were in­ci­dents of ha­rass­ment dur­ing the past elec­tions. There were peo­ple who harassed my men, and this might hap­pen again in next year’s elec­tions,” he said in an in­ter­view on Fri­day.

Tubu­ran was the lone mu­nic­i­pal­ity in Cebu which was placed un­der the EWAs’ orange cat­e­gory due to pre­vi­ous elec­tion-re­lated in­ci­dents, in­tense po­lit­i­cal ri­valry, and armed threats.

In May 2016, the sup­port­ers of Diamante and his brother, Vice Mayor Danilo Diamante, were am­bushed by a group of armed men in Barangay

Mag-atoy, five days be­fore the na­tional and lo­cal elec­tions.

The in­ci­dent re­sulted to the death of Rene Cam­paong, one of Diamante’s aides.

“Hope­fully di na mausab kay luoy pod ang mahitaboan. Last elec­tion gi-am­bush mi na­matyan mi og usa. Luoy ang tawo nga nahi­mong col­lat­eral dam­age kay naa man pod na si­lay mga pam­ilya nga nabiyaan ,” Diamante said.

(We hope that in­ci­dent will not hap­pen again be­cause I pity the fam­ily of the vic­tims. In the 2016 elec­tions, one of my aides was killed. He be­came a col­lat­eral dam­age and left be­hind a fam­ily.)

Not sur­prised

He said he was not sur­prised when the po­lice in­cluded Tubu­ran town in the EWAs due to “in­tense” po­lit­i­cal ri­valry and the pres­ence of armed men in the town.

Diamante hoped that more po­lice­men and mil­i­tary will be de­ployed in Tubu­ran to look af­ter its 54 barangays.

Any aug­men­ta­tion, he said, would help since the town only has 25 po­lice­men se­cur­ing around 70,000 res­i­dents of the mu­nic­i­pal­ity.

“Duna gyud nay mga mang­ha­rass dur­ing elec­tion. Last elec­tion, dili or­di­naryo nga mga tawo ang nang­ha­rass sa akong mga tawo. Nag-ex­pect mi nga this elec­tion naa gi­hapon na,” said Diamante.

(There are in­ci­dents of ha­rass­ment dur­ing elec­tions. Last elec­tion, those who harassed my men were not or­di­nary peo­ple. We ex­pect that there may be the same in­ci­dent this elec­tions.)

Diamante main­tained that the armed men oper- at­ing in his town do not come from his group.

De­spite the al­leged pres­ence of armed groups in the town, Diamante stressed that their camp would not be hir­ing any of these goons for the elec­tions next year.

Diamante said the lo­cal gov­ern­ment is also main­tain­ing com­mu­ni­ca­tion with the lo­cal po­lice in or­der to de­ter pos­si­ble il­le­gal ac­tiv­i­ties, es­pe­cially in the hin­ter­lands.

In the 2018 Barangay and Sang­gu­ni­ang Ka­bataan elec­tions, Tubu­ran was also in the EWA of PRO-7 and the Com­elec.

In next year’s elec­tions, Diamante will be slid­ing down to vice mayor. His brother, in­cum­bent Vice Mayor Danilo Diamante, will be run­ning as mayor in his place.

The Po­lice Re­gional of­fice in Cen­tral Visayas (PRO7) and the Com­mis­sion on Elec­tions in the re­gion (Com­elec-7) have jointly an­nounced on Thurs­day that at least 29 towns and cities in Cen­tral Visayas have been de­clared as EWAs based on their his­tory of elec­tion-re­lated in­ci­dents.

Of the num­ber, seven are in Cebu, in­clud­ing Tubu­ran. The oth­ers were the cities of Cebu, Man­daue, Lapu-Lapu, and Danao; and the towns of Ronda and San Fer­nando.

Ex­cept for Tubu­ran, all EWAs in Cebu were clas­si­fied as “yel­low,” which means these places had pre­vi­ous elec­tion-re­lated in­ci­dents and have his­tory of in­tense po­lit­i­cal ri­valry.

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

Pre­ven­tive mea­sure

In Cebu City, op­po­si­tion Coun­cilor Joel Gar­gan­era said it was just right for law en­forcers and elec­tion of­fi­cers to closely mon­i­tor next year’s elec­tions in the city.

“We are the big­gest LGU (lo­cal gov­ern­ment unit) in Cen­tral Visayas. And then con­sid­er­ing the in­creas­ing po­lit­i­cal ten­sion. It is just proper to mon­i­tor it in or­der to pre­vent any­thing from es­ca­lat­ing,” he said.

Gar­gan­era be­longs to the Barug-PDP La­ban po­lit­i­cal bloc in Cebu City, which has put up a full slate, led by Vice Mayor Edgardo La­bella as their may­oral bet, to chal­lenge the ma­jor­ity headed by re­elec­tion­ist Mayor To­mas Osmeña of the Bando Osmeña Pun­dok Kauswa­gan (BOPK).

But Coun­cilor Mary Ann de los San­tos, Osmeña’s run­ning mate, be­lieved there was no need for the po­lice to in­clude Cebu City in the EWAs.

“It is my opin­ion that to do such a thing, put­ting Cebu City un­der yel­low alert is un­nec­es­sary and base­less as of the mo­ment,” said De los San­tos.

“While it may seem that there is in­tense po­lit­i­cal ri­valry, as has al­ways been in the case here, for as long as it does not es­ca­late into wan­ton vi­o­lence, ter­ror­ism and chaos, which will pre­vent the vot­ers from truly ex­press­ing their sen­ti­ments, I see no need for it,” she added.

De los San­tos also said Cebu City’s in­clu­sion in the EWAs may have un­wanted con­se­quences.

“Put­ting us un­der the watch­list would only give the im­pres­sion that we have that sit­u­a­tion here when in fact, there is none what­so­ever,” De los San­tos opined.

Both Gar­gan­era and De los San­tos are run­ning for elec­tive po­si­tions in the May 2019 midterm elec­tions. The for­mer is seek­ing to be re­elected for his se­cond term in the City Coun­cil while the lat­ter is vy­ing for the vice may­oralty seat.

Cebu City North Dis­trict Elec­tion Of­fi­cer Marchel Sarno said there was noth­ing to be alarmed of if a city or town is in­cluded in the EWAs.

“It does not fol­low that there is vi­o­lence in the place. We just give that city or town at­ten­tion,” he said.

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