SAN FERNANDO CITY, La Union – This city and the towns of Balaoan, Bacnotan, Naguilian, Aringay and Agoo were declared as ‘areas of concern’ or election hotspots by the Commission on Elections and the Philippine National Police.
Senior Superintendent Angelito Dumangeng, La Union Police Director, has intensified checkpoint operations in these areas and police personnel were augmented by 200 new police recruits.
Dumangeng said personnel from the Philippine Navy and Army, together with the PNP’s ‘quick response team’ will be deployed in these areas on May 2.
Lawyer Julius Torres, Comelec Regional Election Director, said areas of concern are those places with intense political rivalries and where election-related violence occurred during the previous elections.
In Balaoan, the contending parties for the mayoral and vice mayoral positions are close relatives. Incumbent Mayor Al-Fred Concepcion is running for vice mayor in partner with his daughter Atty. Alile Concepcion, who is running for mayor.
They are being challenged by the father and son tandem, incumbent Vice Mayor Gerard Ostrea is running for Mayor while his father Provincial Board Member Joaquin Ostrea Jr. is running for Vice Mayor.
In Bacnotan town, incumbent Mayor Francis Fontanilla is being challenged by his younger brother, Barangay Captain Lito Fontanilla.
Dumangeng said that there are reports of alleged harassments in these areas of concerns but no election-related incidents happened based on police evaluation.
Aside from the six areas in La Union, Torres said that are a total 39 areas of concern in Region 1, with 16 towns in Pangasinan, 10 in Ilocos Norte, and seven in Ilocos Sur.
“The list may or may not change as the elections draw closer,” Torres said.
Torres said their office is in constant coordination with the police and military forces to ensure a safe and peaceful poll in the region. Jun Elias/ northboundasia.com