>> Sunday, January 31, 2010
By Dexter A. See
CAMP DANGWA, La Trinidad – The regional police office in the Cordillera here confirmed three out of the six provinces in the region have been initially included in the list of areas under the watch list of the Commission on Elections because of election-related violence and incidents over the past three elections which could be repeated in the forthcoming May, 2010 elections.
Chief Supt. Samuel B. Diciano, police deputy regional director for administration, said the inclusion of Abra, Kalinga, and Mountain Province under the watch list is part of the processes being undertaken to ensure the sustained efforts towards achieving a clean, honest, orderly, and peaceful elections and it does not mean that the images of the provinces are being placed in a bad light.
While Abra is being considered as one of the election “hot spots” due to unabated violence, he pointed Kalinga and Mountain Province were included in the watch list because of records of election-related violence as well as ballot-snatching incidents over the past three elections.
Diciano said there is significant improvement in the prevailing peace and order in Abra over the past several years but efforts are being undertaken by concerned government agencies to convince the people to give up the culture of violence and embrace the culture of peace for the benefit of the present and future generations.
During the May, 2007 local elections, former Vice Governor Romel Diasen, husband of Kalinga Gov. Floydelia Diasen, was gunned down while he was delivering a speech in one of the areas in Kalinga on April 7, 2007, then a Black Saturday.
For Mountain Province, it was included under the watch list because of ballot-snatching incidents in the remote town of Paracelis over the past three elections which affected the outcome of the results in the municipal and provincial levels.
At present, Diciano added validation and assessment efforts are being done by the law enforcement agencies to ascertain whether or not the three provinces will be delisted from the watch list before the start of the campaign period for local officials on March 26, 2010.
The police official appealed to all sectors in the region to strictly abide by the existing regulations, especially the total gun ban, which are being implemented by the Comelec and law enforcement agencies so that the country will achieve a clean, honest, orderly, and peaceful elections.