4 towns of I. Sur tagged as areas of concern

SAN FERNANDO CITY – Four towns in Ilocos Sur have been declared as areas of immediate concern in the coming elections.

Philippine National Police Regional Director Chief Supt. Leopoldo Bataoil said the towns of Cabugao, Cervantes, Bantay and Sta. Maria have been declared areas of immediate concern due to past election-related incidents.

The towns of Tayug and Natividad in Pangasinan, Balaoan in La Union, and San Carlos City have also been tagged as areas of immediate concern, he said.

Bataoil said these areas have been put  under close watch by the police to prevent election-related violence.

Earlier, Bataoil has ordered ground commanders to undertake pro-active police interventions to contain political rivalries in these areas so as to avert election-related violence.

The regional director has also directed the provincial directors to put up checkpoints in strategic areas in the region to enforce the gun ban in line with Resolution No. 7764-A issued by the Commission on Elections.

The movements of armed groups that are suspected private armies or bodyguards of politicians are also being monitored, Bataoil said.

He said his office will initiate a peace covenant to be signed by contending candidates running for local positions with the supervision of the Comelec, Volunteers Against Crime and Corruption, the Parish Pastoral Council for Responsible Voting and different media organizations to ensure a clean and orderly election.

Earlier, Bataoil has reported that 17 persons have been arrested for violating the election gun ban: 12 in Pangasinan, 2 in Ilocos Sur and 2 in Ilocos Norte.

He said that of the 17 violators of the gun ban, 15 were charged in court, 1 is still under investigation and 1 has been dismissed due to lack of evidence.