Barely a week in the electoral campaign in the Bicol region yet the Philippine National Police already has deployed additional police personnel to the province of Masbate.
The island is home to a history of electoral violence during the conduct of previous elections may it be mid-term or presidential which dates back into pre-Martial Law days. The province is alleged to have a strong presence of private armies maintained by high profile politicians. The government has yet to show force and dismantle alleged private goons that roam and sow terror on the residents.
The Bicol police agency is beefing up current police presence in the island to upkeep safety and peace during the campaign and election process. More police presence will protect communities from lawless elements that may cause disturbance.
One hundred twenty police officers get their deployment orders for the island-province which will compliment the early batch of hundreds of police officers at the Regional Special Operation Task Grouop tasked to maintain peace and order already in Masbate.
Of the current wave of deployment to Masbate, 69 were sourced from the Regional Public Safety Batallion, 46 from the special counter-operating unit, five police investigators and six deputized agents of the Land Transportation Office (LTO).
The deployment of additional policemen in Masbate has the nod from Bicol Commission on Elections.
Earlier in January, the Commission on Elections in Manila classified 14 towns of Masbate province as hotspot areas which include Balud, Cataingan, Claveria, Dimasalang, Milagros, Placer, San Fernando, San Pascual, Aroroy, Baleno, Palanas, Uson and Mobo.
Around the region, hotspot areas include, in Camarines Sur, the towns of Pasacao, Siruma, Lupi, Bula, and Bato, and the city of Iriga. In Sorsogon the towns of Barcelona, Bulusan, Irosin and Magallanes were considered hot spots. The towns of Labo and Capalonga of Camarines Norte and Malinao of Albay were also included in the classification.
Towns and localities are included in the watch list in varying level of category, due to intense political rivalries obtaining in the area, or the presence of armed or rebel groups which may result to violent incidents during the election period.(From PNA reports)