By Aaron Recuenco and Leslie Ann Aquino
The Philippine National Police (PNP) identified over the weekend 7,544 election hotspots throughout the country as the new PNP Chief ordered police intelligence units to immediately come up with a proper assessment of these areas in order to ensure security and peace in next month’s Barangay and Sangguniang Kabataan (SK) Elections.
Director General Oscar Albayalde ordered police to intensify and expedite the assessment of these hotspots with the help of the military and the Commission on Elections (Comelec).
“But whenever we say hotspots, they are not necessarily dangerous places. These areas were categorized as election hotspots because of some violence that only include mauling incidents, not necessarily firefights,” said Albayalde.
Currently, the PNP is conducting a review of the past cases of violent incidents in the past elections, including the latest barangay elections in 2013 and that of the 2016 polls.
Barangay elections are considered to be posing more local security threats as compared with national polls since both candidates and their supporters are coming from the same community.
Albayalde said the identification of hotspots for the barangay elections on May 14 will serve as a basis for mapping out strategies on peace and order, especially for local police commanders.
Aside from election hot spots, Albayalde said they are also focusing on candidates who have links with drugs amid threats and warnings from the Duterte administration for those connected to illegal drugs not to run.
This week, the Comelec will start the deployment of election paraphernalia to local Comelec offices.
Comelec Commissioner Sheriff Abas announced Saturday that they will start the deployment of the forms and supplies on Wednesday (April 25).
“By April 25 we will start deploying… we are ready in the Packing and Shipping Committee,” he said.
Abas added that first to be deployed are for those in farthest areas such as the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM).
The Schedules and Order of Dispatch of Accountable Forms such as Official Ballots, Elections Returns, Canvassing Forms and Indelible Ink are as follows: April 25, ARMM; April 26, Region 13 (CARAGA) and Batanes in Region 2; April 27, Regions 11 and 12; April 28, Regions 9 and 10; April 29, Region 8; April 30, Region 6; May 1, Cordillera Administrative Region (CAR) and Region 2; May 2, Region 4-B (MIMAROPA) and Quezon in Region 4-A; May 3, Region 7; May 4, Region 5; May 5, Region 1; May 6, Region 3; May 7, Region 4-A (CALABARZON); May 8-9 National Capital Region (NCR or Metro Manila).
Prayer for polls
With less than a month to go before the polls, the Diocese of Balanga in Bataan has released a prayer for electing village and youth officials.
In the said prayer, Bataan Bishop Ruperto Santos asked the faithful to seek guidance from the Lord so that they may choose “Godly leaders” who are not only pro-God, but are also pro-country, pro-environment and pro-people.
“Guide us so we can vote intelligently and conscientiously. We seek out Godly leaders to represent and protect us. Be with us at this time so that we may vote for candidates with a mind who will listen to Your voice and follow Your ways,” read the prayer.
The prelate said the faithful should ask God for leaders who respect life and dedicated in protecting the rights of all, particularly the unborn and the underprivileged.
The kind of leaders, Santos said with “servant hearts” who will always put the country’s welfare before their very own, who will move the country in the right direction and who will help heal this land from corruption and not concede to bribery, profit, nor misappropriation of funds.
“We humbly ask that You position leaders who will advocate a strong stand in protecting the environment. Install people who will sustain your gift of nature and stand against its threats,” he said in the prayer.
Lastly, the Balanga prelate urged the faithful to pray for “compassionate leaders” who have unwavering desire to help those in need.
“Grant us leaders with great conviction, who will never compromise what is right even in their most unguarded moments. We beg that you send us people who will steer our country in making us a great nation of faithful believers,” said Santos.
He added: “Leaders who will give God the glory and not themselves.”
The prayer was released Saturday, April 21, the last day of the filing of the Certificates of Candidacy for the village and youth polls.