Sun, 24 Mar 2019

CEBU, Jan. 10 (PIA)--Public support is needed to ensure that the upcoming May polls are honest and safe.

But much cooperation is required from those who are running themselves and to commit to employ fairness in accordance with election campaign standards.

On Jan.13, political candidates gunning for local posts including incumbent ones are requested to join the Central Visayas Unity Walk for Secure and Fair Elections (SAFE) 2019 in Cebu.

The unity walk will start at the Cebu Capitol grounds along Escario Street where hundreds of participants are expected to join.

The walk will culminate at the Police Regional Office compound in Osmena Boulevard, Cebu City.

Police Sr. Supt. Renato Dugan, chief of the Police Community Relations Division of the Police Regional Office (PRO)-7, said the unity walk is simultaneous in all regions undertaken by respective police regional offices.

"The unity walk for secure and safe elections is initiated by the PNP (Philippine National Police) national headquarters and the conduct of the activity is simultaneous throughout the regions nationwide," said Dugan.

Around 3,455 individuals in Region 7 filed their certificate of candidacy for local positions from congressman, governor, vice governor, mayor, vice mayor down to Sangguniang Panlalawigan and Sangguniang Bayan.

At present, there are only two categorized election-related violent incidents (EVRIs) recorded in the region, reported Supt. Arnel Banzon, officer-in-charge of the Regional Operations and Plans Division, during the recent combined Regional Joint Security Control Centers (RJSCC) and Regional Law Enforcement Coordinating Committee (RLECC) meeting.

Banzon cited last year's shooting incidents of Ronda, Cebu Mayor Mariano Blanco on Sept. 5 and Brgy. Councilor Gregorio Mellissa of Inabanga, Bohol on May 10 as ERVIs.

"At the moment, peace and order relative to election-related concerns is manageable," said Banzon.

But in the same joint RJSCC-RLECC 7 meeting, election hotspots were identified where concerns of its susceptibility to poll violence were noted.

The election hotspots are color-coded depending on the threat of violence from green (no threat level), yellow (history of violence), orange (presence of armed or rebel groups), to red (has elements of yellow and orange and deem most critical).

Of the total 132 municipalities and cities in Central Visayas, 63 are tagged as election watchlist areas (EWAs) while 301 barangays in the region are categorized as 'threatened', nine barangays under 'influence', and six other barangays as 'less influence.'

"No election-related violent incidents were recorded so far (as of this report) but the campaign propaganda will intensify among local bets," said P/SSupt. Remus Medina, chief of the Regional Intelligence Division of PRO-7.

Local campaign period will start on March 29 until May 11, 2019. (fcr/PIA7)

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