Dagupan, 4 towns tagged as areas of special concern

NO PEACE AND ORDER BREAKDOWN

LINGAYEN– The Philippine National Police (PNP) declared Dagupan City and four towns in Pangasnan as areas of special concern owing largely to intense political rivalry among candidates running in the May 13 local elections. 

This was revealed by P/Col. Wilson Lopez, police provincial director, in a talk to newsmen on Thursday in the sideline of the State of the Province Address of Gov. Amado I. Espino III in front of the Provincial Capitol. 

He identified the four towns as Sto. Tomas, Rosales, Balungao and San Manuel.

Lopez said aside from the five, more towns will likely be closely watched by the Pangasinan Police Provincial Office because of bitter rivalries among candidates.

He, however, assured Pangasinenses that the police will do everything to avert any violence and a shootout between political rivals.

Lopez said his office will intensify checkpoint operations to deter the movement of firearms and criminal elements that may be employed to terrorize voters.

He added that the Pangasinan police were already augmented by troops from the Police Regional Office 1 and the Provincial Mobile Force Company since last year.

So far, no violence of any kind has been noted in any part of Pangasinan, Lopez added.

Meanwhile, P/Lt. Col. Jandale Sulit, chief of police of Dagupan, explained that the inclusion of Dagupan in the list of areas of special concern does not mean that there exists imminent breakdown in peace and order in the city but because there are five island barangays where elections may be disrupted because of a power disruption, and the possibility that election paraphernalia may be damaged while loading or offloading from boats. 

“Ang nagsasabing magulo ang mga pulitica sa ating lugar, yan po ay walang katotohanan,” Sulit told newsmen. 

“As to the rivalries of the candidates, both Mayor Belen (Fernandez) and Vice Mayor (Brian) Lim as well as their supporters, assured me they will abide by the peace covenant they signed with me,” Sulit said.

He added the campaign teams of Fernandez and Lim have already been campaigning with no signs of animosities between them which, he said, is an indication they are being true to the pledge they made.

The slaying of a mayoralty candidate in Sto. Tomas a few weeks ago by suspected guns-for-hire made the town an area of special concern.

The intense political rivalries among mayoralty candidates in Rosales and Balungao and the history of political violence in San Manuel led to their being considered as areas of concern. (Leonardo Micua)                

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