More policemen deployed to volatile northern Iloilo towns

ILOILO – More policemen have been deployed to four northern Iloilo municipalities – Lemery, Sara, Estancia, and Carles.

“Sa itong mga towns kasi medyo mainit ang mga election candidates,” said Police Colonel Marlon Tayaba, director of the Iloilo Police Provincial Office (IPPO).

The goal, according to Tayaba, is to “control and prevent them from doing any crime.”

The IPPO is wary of the possible mobilization private armed groups in the four municipalities as the May 13 midterm elections draw near.

These groups may be used to buy votes or threaten voters, he said.

Lemery falls under the “red” category of the Police Regional Office 6’s (PRO-6) election security classification of municipalities, while Sara, Estancia and Carles are under the “orange” category.

The other categories are “green” and “yellow.”

The “green” towns are the least of the police’s concern but still require monitoring while the “yellow” towns” have a history of, or current intense political rivalry among the contending election candidates and such rivalry could motivate people to engage in violent acts. In these towns, there may also be private armed groups abetted by loose firearms and/or gun-for-fire gangs, and record of validated election-related incidents in the 2016 national and local elections.

“Orange” towns are considered “election areas of immediate concern” for having a combination of factors present in the “yellow” category, plus the presence and/or serious armed threat posed by the New People’s Army and other local terrorist groups.

Those in the “red” category, on the other hand, have a combination of concerns in the “orange” and “yellow” categories.

Three are running for mayor in Lemery: Lowel Arban, Benigno Baldivinos Sr. and Oscar Villegas Jr.

There are also three running for mayor in Sara: Jon, Aying, Azur Salcedo and Jesus Salcedo.

In Estancia, the candidates for mayor are Geronima Cordero, Mario Golingan and Melina Requinto.

Carles, on the other hand, has four candidates for mayor: Merle Tupas, Jesus Bartolome, Siegfredo Betita, and Selfa Monta.

Tayaba said more policemen would also be deployed to central Iloilo towns. He particularly mentioned Calinog and Maasin which are “red” towns.

The IPPO would be coordinating with the Armed Forces of the Philippines to keep these towns in check, he added.

“We appeal to the candidates and their supporters to keep their cool,” said Tayaba.

Running for mayor in Calinog are Francisco Calvo, Anthony Andrew Gustilo and Rene Hurtada.

In Maasin, the candidates for mayor are Francis Amboy and Ma. Theresa Malones Sanchez.

The peace and order situation in 133 Western Visayas municipalities is the PRO-6’s top concern as the midterm elections approach.

More policemen would be posted in these areas, confirmed Bulalacao.

The 133 towns have been classified as follows: green, 90; yellow, 16; orange, 23; and red, 4./PN


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