MANILA — Due to three separate attacks on local officials, the Philippine National Police (PNP) placed the province of La Union on the election “hotspot list” for next year’s mid-term polls.
“For obvious reasons, it is already on our hotspot list. What happened there is not alarming, but we have to be concerned,” PNP chief, Director General Oscar Albayalde told reporters during a press briefing on Thursday.
The PNP move was due to the recent ambush in Balaoan town where the vice mayor was killed and his daughter who is also the incumbent mayor was wounded.
Last October, Supiden, La Union Mayor Alexander Boquing was waylaid by armed men. Former La Union (2nd District) Rep. Eufranio Eriguel was also assassinated last May.
Albayalde said they have yet to receive advice if La Union will be placed under the control of the Commission on Elections (Comelec).
Based on PNP data, at least 18 government officials were either wounded or killed from January to November this year.
Albayalde earlier ordered all police commanders to conduct early election security preparations following the series of attacks on local chief executives in the past two years.
He said they expect the attacks to intensify as the mid-term elections draw near.
He said Philippine elections are historically marred with attacks on candidates and their supporters so the PNP leadership’s solution is to intensify security measures and get the cooperation of the candidates.
Almost 8,000 barangays are currently on the election hotspot list while 77 armed groups are operating in the country, PNP figures showed.
“We are all focused and geared towards a common goal of a peaceful and orderly elections,” Albayalde said.
Earlier, Albayalde said they are looking at the provinces of Abra, Masbate, Lanao del Norte, Lanao del Sur, and Zamboanga del Norte as possible election hotspots.
Since August this year, Albayalde said the PNP has neutralized 82 gun-for-hire syndicate members and confiscated 35 assorted firearms. PNA-northboundasia.com