Cebu Daily News
First Posted 06:48:00 05/05/2010

Iloilo City — Philippine National Police (PNP) officials in Western and Eastern Visayas said they were prepared for the May 10 elections as hundreds of policemen would be deployed to avert election-related violence.

At least 500 additional policemen were deployed starting Monday for election security duties in Iloilo amid the rising cases of election-related violence in the province.

Chief Supt. Isagani Cuevas, Western Visayas police director, said on Monday that the policemen would be assigned to secure the polling centers and augment other police operations.

Cuevas said eight cases of election-related violence have been reported in Iloilo since the start of the campaign period this year.

These include the killing of village councilor Arsenio Flaviano, a supporter of Iloilo Rep. Niel Tupas Jr., in Concepcion town on Feb. 13; the killing of Leny Leysa, a bodyguard of former Calinog town mayor Salvador Divinagracia Jr.; and the disarming of two of his two police escorts by New People’s Army (NPA) rebels on April 14 in barangay Agcalaga in Calinog.

The election-related violence in Iloilo province also included the burning by suspected NPA rebels of a tractor owned by mayoral candidate Ligaya Apura on Feb. 18 in barangay Pacuan in Lemery town.

In Iloilo City, Cuevas cited the fatal shooting of Luis Mondia Jr. in front of the Jaro Cathedral on Feb. 17. Mondia was running for mayor in Pulupandan town in Negros Occidental.

Iloilo was also jarred by grenade explosions in front of bakeshop owned by the family Iloilo City Mayor Jerry Treñas in Jaro District on March 8 and in front of the house of his brother Francis Treñas in Molo District on March 23.

Additional policemen will also be sent to other provinces in the region, according to Cuevas.

The police and Commission on Election (Comelec) officials in Western Visayas have placed 46 towns and cities in the region under watch. These are located in Iloilo (18), Negros Occidental (10), Antique (9), in Capiz (4), Aklan (3) and Guimaras (2).

On the other hand, Chief Supt. Reynaldo Lanada, Eastern Visayas police director, said they would start deploying on Thursday close to 600 policemen in various provinces in the region although they have not monitored a single election-related violence in the region.

Of the 580 policemen who would be deployed for poll duty, 400 would be assigned in Samar province where 21 towns, including the city of Calbayog, have been included in the election watch list by the PNP, Lanada said on Monday.

The PNP-8 earlier identified five private armed groups operating in Samar province, some of them “crossing” over to the nearby province of Northern Samar.

Ninety policemen are to be deployed in various parts of Northern Samar; 70 in Eastern Samar and 20 in the small island-province of Biliran.

There were 16 towns in Northern Samar identified by the watch list, eight in Eastern Samar and two in Biliran. /INQUIRER

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