LAOAG CITY —- Barely two weeks before the December 10 deadline for filing of substitution for candidates, the Philippine National Police has already identified seven of the 21 municipalities and two cities here as a priority watch list in the upcoming 2016 elections.
Police Senior Superintendent Albert Ocon, Provincial Director of the Ilocos Norte Police Provincial Office, revealed the PNP is closely monitoring the situation in these seven municipalities.
In a joint meeting attended by election officers and police personnel concerning security and elections preparations held at the St. Ignatius de Loyola Chapel in Camp Valentin S. Juan, this city on Tuesday, Atty. Alipio Castillo III, Provincial Election Supervisor of Ilocos Norte, said they have identified the towns of Bacarra, Bangui, Pagudpud, Vintar, Badoc, Marcos and Solsona as under election watch list.
According to Alipio, there had been previous incidents involving key officials and relative candidates in these municipalities that may provoke an untoward incident.
Should rivalries heat up, the PNP has already started instituting preventive measures. Some of these include the activation of provincial security control center, strengthening of community intelligence surveillance, conduct of checkpoints installed in strategic places, and inventory of loose firearms, including the continuing arrest of most wanted personalities in Ilocos Norte.
Alipio underscored that based on the Omnibus Election Code, political candidates are not allowed to have police escorts except if they have apparent death threats and their claim is valid.
He also said that with the lack of police personnel to maintain peace and order, candidates may opt to hire private security personnel, provided these individuals are qualified and belong to a duly-registered security agency.
Meanwhile, the COMELEC appealed to the public to immediately report any election-related violence in their respective communities. PNA