As the October 30 Barangay and Sangguniang Kabataan elections approach, expect the political scene to heat up with the same intensity as the weather’s heat index.
Already, the Commission on Elections has been reporting about numerous flying voters and double registrations of voters, an anomaly which could make a mockery of the electoral system and result in incredulous poll results, marked by vote buying, the electoral list still containing the dead (which politicians could use to up their vote numbers) and voters voting in two or more precincts.
News reports said the Philippine National Police is now staunchly monitoring at least 48 active and potential private armed groups (PAGs) or hired goons as it intensified security preparation for the BSK.
PNP- PIO chief Col. Redrico Maranan told a news briefing that the PAGs are scattered across the country, raising the possibility that they could affect the elections unless these are dismantled.
Some of the groups are operating in Cordillera Administrative Region, Central Luzon, Bicol region, Western Visayas and Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao. (Often the PAGs count among their forces the dismissed soldiers and cops).
Maranan said PNP chief Gen. Benjamin Acorda Jr. has ordered regional and provincial police directors to strictly monitor and intensify operationsagainst the PAGs to ensure that they will not hijack the coming local polls.
He added that Acorda also ordered the PNP to confiscate the firearms of the PAGs by intensifying search warrant operations against their members.
Visayas Command (Viscom) said it is ready to perform the crucial task to ensure a peaceful election in the Visayas region, as it prepares for the upcoming Barangay and SK Elections 2023.
The military has also intensified its preparations for the elections by meeting with Comelec officials in the regional and provincial levels such as in the Visayas.
AFP Visayas Commander Lt. Gen. Benedict Arevalo said they had also been working with the PNP to validate election watchlist areas in the region, which would become the basis of Viscom’s deployment during the elections, said a Business Mirror report.
Arevalo said a total of 158 areas in the Visayas are included on the Election Watchlist Areas (EWAs). Of this figure, 37 are in Region 6, 63 in Region 7 and 58 are in Region 8 (Eastern Visayas).
The regional military commander said that of the 158 areas, 40 are classified as Areas of Concern, 92 as Areas of Immediate Concern and 26 are Areas of Grave Concern.
Areas of Concern are places with intense political rivalry and election-related incidents. Areas of Immediate Concern are hotspots with the presence of New People’s Army and other threat groups, and Areas of Grave Concern combine the features of the first two classifications.
I can only pray for a credible, honest and peaceful local elections, particularly in remote islands of the country, which are hotbeds of political dynasties that operate on 3 Gs – guns, goons and gold.
Every life lost in such election is a waste that the country cannot recover from. Imagine those talents that are being maimed all because they do not support the greedy candidate whose lust for power and influence had become the main goal for seeking political power. These are candidates who will do everything to perpetuate the family’s political fortune through corruption, force and intimidation.