ILIGAN CITY(MindaNews/ 1 December)—Politicians vying for one of the congressional seats in Misamis Occidental welcomed the recommendation of the Philippine National Police (PNP) to declare the province as an election hotspot.
Recently, the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG), which has supervisory control over the PNP, has included Misamis Occidental among the 15 provinces in the country where political violence could occur.
Rep. Loreto Leo Ocampos, local chair of the Liberal Party, said the hotspot declaration should usher in a “freer atmosphere for voters” come election day next year.
Ocampos cited several allegations of voter intimidation “and even harassment on some local media people” during the 2010 polls.
“I am not aware there was such an assessment made by the PNP, I only knew it in the news. But if I were asked, I would have a similar recommendation,” Ocampos told reporters.
“If that is the assessment of the authorities, so be it,” said Vice Governor Henry S. Oaminal when interviewed over radio station DxDD in Ozamiz City.
At first, Oaminal expressed surprise at the DILG announcement.
“I was just apprehensive that this can have a negative impact on the total security image of the province,” he explained.
Oaminal will square off with Ocampos for the congressional seat of the province’s second district.
Areas declared hotspots will be given greater focus by state security forces as the electoral season formally begins in January. This is aimed at deterring any untoward incident that could affect the integrity of the electoral exercise.
In case the situation worsens, such areas can be placed under the direct control of the Commission on Elections, thereby giving the poll body complete command of the locality.
“This increased security attention is actually for the sake of the people, for them to totally express in the ballots their real sentiments,” Ocampos said.
“If we want the result of this election to be truly reflective of the voters’ will, then it’s no big deal to be an election hotspot,” he added. (Ryan D. Rosauro/MindaNews contributor)