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‘La Union must be declared an election hotspot’

La Union Reps. Pablo Ortega and Sandra Eriguel are in favor of declaring the province as an election hotspot to prevent lawless elements from sowing terror.

“I ask the PNP [Philippine National Police] and the National Bureau of Investigation to speed up their investigations. The killings have tainted peace and order in La Union. I urge residents to cooperate with authorities to unmask the perpetrators of these crimes,” Ortega said.

Eriguel said placing the province under control of the Commission on Elections would ensure that military and police personnel are deployed across the province.

Senator Panfilo Lacson also said La Union seemed to have taken the place of Abra, where killings of politicians usually spike during elections.

“I think the PNP should exert extra effort and focus on the political situation in La Union. A pattern is emerging,” the senator and former police chief said in a recent forum.

Interior and Local Government officer-in-charge Eduardo Año said he will recommend La Union to be declared as an election hotspot.

This followed the assassination of Balaoan Vice Mayor Alfred Concepcion on Nov. 14, Sudipen Mayor Alexander Buquing on Oct. 1, and former Second District Rep. Franny Eriguel ― Sandra’s husband ― on May 12, 2018.

Eriguel, who was also a doctor and former mayor, was gunned down by unidentified armed men during a “miting de avance” on May 12 in Barangay Capas, Agoo.

Eriguel and two of his civilian companions were declared dead on arrival, while another died three days later.

Buquing received multiple gunshot wounds on different parts of his body in Bangar town, on his way home to Sudipen on October 1.  He was rushed to a hospital, but was declared dead on arrival. His driver and police guard were also killed.

The latest victim of political violence in the province was Balaoan Vice Mayor Alfred Concepcion and his security escort who were killed in Barangay Cabuaan on Nov. 14.

Concepcion’s daughter, Balaoan Mayor Aleli Concepcion, was also wounded by gunmen, but survived the incident.

The Comelec is amenable to proposals to declare La Union as an election hot spot or area of immediate concern amid recent killings of local officials.

Noli Pipo, Comelec regional director, said in a radio interview they are waiting for the evaluation and recommendation of the PNP and Armed Forces of the Philippines to assess the situation.

Joel Gines, Comelec provincial supervisor, said placing La Union under the poll body’s control would ensure the presence of security forces and safety of residents.

Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra also agreed to look into the killings in the province, saying: “The NBI is keeping a tight watch of what’s happening on the ground.”

Topics: La Union , Pablo Ortega , Sandra Eriguel , election hotspot , Philippine National Police , National Bureau of Investigation , Commission on Elections
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