DIAMANTE WANTS MORE TROOPS, COPS IN TUBURAN
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.)
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.
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.