LINGAYEN, Pangasinan — The Pangasinan Police Provincial Office (PPPO) is aiming to register zero election-related incident in the coming May 9 polls though it has confirmed that the province is one of the election watch list areas (EWAS) in the country today.

“My objective is zero election-related incident in Pangasinan this election, said Senior Supt. Edgar Allan Okubo, officer-in-charge of the Pangasinan PPO, speaking during the question hour of the Pangasinan provincial board on Monday.

Okubo, however, stopped short of naming the leading towns and cities included in the election watch list and preferred to just give the complete list to the provincial board in order not to unduly alarm the people in these towns and cities mentioned in the list.

In his talk before the Sangguniang Panlalawigan, Okubo however, gave little hints on what these towns and cities are, citing the towns of Rosales as one of them.

In Rosales, the former town mayor Ricardo Revita, now staging a comeback in the coming election, deposited to the Philippine National Police (PNP) at least 21 high-powered firearms, all of them licensed, for safekeeping. Okubo said being in the watch list is really an advantage as more troops will be deployed by the higher PNP headquarters to maintain peace and order.

He said as election watch list area, Pangasinan would have some 200 additional troops coming to help the local police in 48 towns and cities ensure safe, clean and credible election.

He said the present number of policemen in Pangasinan is 2,699 with the population of the province now at almost three million.

He said not only the intense political rivalry in the province anticipated but the are two private armed groups (PAGs) that may disturb the peace.

He said that Pangasinan was already cleared of insurgency problem but admitted that the threat is coming from New People’s Army-National Democratic Front (NPA-NDF) in the the Tarlac-Zambales area (Tar-Zam) with 32 men and 32 armaments.

Those threatening the eastern part are of the province, he said, belong to the NPA-NDF Nueva Ecija command.

At the same time, Okubo revealed that there are also towns and a city on Pangasinan which have a history of political violence, like in Urbiztondo, Infanta, Agno as well as San Carlos City where incumbent mayors at the time were killed.

He mentioned the attempt on the life of former mayor Leocadio de Vera of Bayambang last year exacerbated the peace and order situation in Bayambang. De Vera is staging a comeback as Bayambang mayor.

He also said there are 994 loose firearms in the province still unaccounted for and most of these are believed in the hands of criminal gangs which may used to sow violence and intimidate voters in the coming election.

He said that to date, the number of firearms whose licenses have not been renewed stood at 12,892.

Okubo said since the election period started January 10 this year, he has ordered all police stations in 48 towns and cities of Pangasinan to conduct 10 checkpoints a day in various strategic places to prevent the movement of criminals as well as firearms.

He said they have also intensified the serving of search warrants to known holders of firearms and criminal elements and conducted Oplan Lambat Sibat against other criminals

He said they will also implement One-Time, Big Time operation anytime soon against wanted criminal elements as well as drug peddlers. PNA/