Elec­tion watch­list ar­eas

The Freeman - - OPINION -

Be­cause of their pop­u­la­tion den­sity be­ing highly ur­ban­ized ar­eas, the cities of Cebu, Man­daue, and Lapu-Lapu have been clas­si­fied as elec­tion watch­list ar­eas or EWAS in prepa­ra­tion for the midterm elec­tions next year.

The three cities were part of at least 29 ar­eas in Cen­tral Visayas that the re­gional joint se­cu­rity com­mit­tee of the Com­mis­sion on Elec­tions, Philip­pine Na­tional Po­lice, and the Armed Forces of the Philip­pines iden­ti­fied as EWAS for var­i­ous rea­sons.

Of the list, seven ar­eas are in Cebu. And aside from the three cities, Danao City and the towns of Ronda, San Fer­nando and Tubu­ran are also in the list of EWAS. Com­elec-7 Director Rafael Olaño said they con­sid­ered the pres­ence of armed groups, in­tense po­lit­i­cal ri­valry, and his­tory of elec­tion-re­lated vi­o­lence as rea­sons for their dec­la­ra­tion.

How­ever, it is the pop­u­la­tion den­sity that shoved the cities of Cebu, Man­daue and Lapu-Lapu into the list, draw­ing dif­fer­ent re­ac­tions from of­fi­cials of the three lo­cal gov­ern­ment units.

In Cebu City, while Coun­cilor Joel Gar­gan­era of the op­po­si­tion sup­ported the de­ci­sion of the se­cu­rity com­mit­tee, Coun­cilor Mary Ann de los San­tos of the ad­min­is­tra­tion said the dec­la­ra­tion was “un­nec­es­sary and base­less.”

Man­daue City Mayor Gabriel Luis Quisumb­ing, for his part, said he wel­comes the city’s in­clu­sion in the EWAS. Mean­while, La­puLapu City Mayor Paz Radaza said she was not against her city be­ing part of the list, although she won­ders why it was in­cluded.

We can­not re­ally blame if many of­fi­cials of these cities will feel un­com­fort­able with the dec­la­ra­tion. We know that since the fil­ing of the cer­tifi­cate of can­di­dacy there has never been any elec­tion-re­lated in­ci­dent in those ar­eas that would merit spe­cial at­ten­tion from au­thor­i­ties.

The joint se­cu­rity com­mit­tee may have valid rea­sons for in­clud­ing pop­u­la­tion den­sity as ground for EWAS dec­la­ra­tion. How­ever, we can­not erase the fact that the clas­si­fi­ca­tion will only bring neg­a­tive im­pact to the whole im­age of these cities.

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