FROM CSIS.ORG INTERNATIONAL: Apr 18, 2013 By Gregory Poling and Phoebe De Padua - The Philippines’ recent political history has been one of clan violence, endemic corruption, and deep political rivalries that have led to turbulent and bloody elections. The last polls in 2010 were marred by killings, vote buying, and other abuses of power by politicians and their followers. The same concerns exist as Filipinos prepare to head to the polls on May 13 for midterm elections.

MANILA, MAY 5, 2013 (MANILA STANDARD) By Francisco Tuyay - The Philippine National Police on Sunday said it had deployed 240 more policemen in Pangasinan to avert a possible outbreak of violence as the election nears.

Pangasinan is considered a “hot spot” owing to the intense rivalry among politicians in the province.

Pangasinan Police Director Officer-in-Charge, Sr. Supt. Marlou Chan said the mobilization of more policemen is aimed at bolstering security in the four cities and 44 towns in the province.

The 240 cops had been placed under strict supervision of the chiefs of police in the province who will work in partnership with city and municipal election officers during the elections,

“The additional force is needed because there are few more policemen left to do regular enforcement duty,” said Chan.

He added that he also expects another augmentation unit from the Philippine Army, following the arrival of an armored personnel carriers (APC) in Binmaley for deployment in Dagupan City and an APC tank deployed in Western Pangasinan in Bolinao town.

Pangasinan has a large voting population of 1.6 million voters.

There are two prominent candidates running for governor: Retired police officer Amado Espino from the Nationalist People’s Coalition and former Department of Agrarian Reform Secretary Hernani Braganza of the Liberal Party.

In December last year, Bugallon Mayor Rodrigo Orduna and Fernando Alimagno, barangay captain of Candelaria, Quezon surfaced in Camp Crame and accused Gov. Espino as a jueteng kingpin in Pangasinan. Espino denied the accusation.


Grenade hurled at house of Pangasinan town mayor By Eva Visperas (The Philippine Star) | Updated April 25, 2013 - 12:00am

[Grenade hurled at house of Pangasinan town mayor The grenade landed at the front door of the house of Bugallon town Mayor Rodrigo Orduña yesterday morning. CESAR RAMIREZ, PHILIPPINE STAR]

BUGALLON, Pangasinan, Philippines – A grenade was hurled at the residence of this town’s mayor early yesterday morning in what local Liberal Party (LP) stalwarts described as a “deplorable act” that police must look into.

No one was reported hurt in the blast which police said merely damaged the front door, including the gutter wall, in the house of Mayor Rodrigo Orduña in the town proper.

Police said the grenade was lobbed at 1:35 a.m. yesterday.

Senior Superintendent Marlou Chan, acting provincial police director, said they were still investigating the incident and could not comment yet on the possible motive behind it.

Chan said they now have to secure the family of Orduña who is running for vice mayor in the May 13 polls. The mayor still refused to be interviewed on the grenade blast.

Orduña, a self-confessed jueteng operator, hogged the headlines when he filed a plunder case at the Office of Ombudsman against re-electionist Gov. Amado Espino Jr. for allegedly receiving about P900 million in jueteng payola.

Espino has denied the allegations. He and Orduña used to be long-time political allies until the mayor joined LP.

In a statement, the provincial LP chapter condemned the grenade attack on Orduña’s house and called on police to intensify their operations against private armies and other lawless elements who may be employed by politicians to sow terror on their rivals.

“We are asking the authorities to investigate this deplorable act and arrest whoever is behind the attack,” said former vice governor Oscar Lambino, spokesman and vice chairman of the local LP.

Alaminos City Mayor Hernani Braganza, the LP’s gubernatorial candidate, called on the police to beef up security for Orduña and increase police visibility in Bugallon and other election hotspots in the province.

Bugallon is listed as one of the 14 priority areas of concern in the May 13 polls due to intense political rivalry.

“We acknowledge the gains made by the Pangasinan police in curbing crime incidents, but our law enforcers should be on the lookout for lawless elements out to sabotage preparations for the May elections,” Braganza said.

“The attack on Mayor Orduña deals a serious blow to efforts to ensure safe and fair elections in Pangasinan. Our law enforcement agencies should conduct more checkpoints and increase police visibility to prevent the outbreak of election violence,” he said.

Espino, for his part, also asked the police to conduct a thorough and independent investigation into the grenade blast.

Espino said Pangasinan has been known as a peaceful province with little track record of political violence for decades now.

An independent and non-partisan probe of the grenade blast would be the first decisive step to keep it that way, he said.

“I don’t want anybody to stage-manage violent acts that make it appear that politics has anything to do with crimes in my province,” he said. – With Cesar Ramirez

All set for polls – Comelec By Mayen Jaymalin (The Philippine Star) | Updated May 6, 2013 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines - Despite persistent concerns about possible mechanical glitches and violence, the Commission on Elections (Comelec) said yesterday all is set for the midterm polls on May 13.

“Everything that happened in 2010, we have already solved these problems. All the things critics have been saying have been addressed,” Comelec Chairman Sixto Brillantes said yesterday.

“What we can do now, since everything is already set, is to ask for everyone to pray so that we can really have a successful and problem-free election on May 13,” he added.

Brillantes said all efforts have been exerted to ensure the success of the coming elections. Proof that everything is in order, he said, is the success of the final testing and sealing (FTS) of the precinct count optical scan (PCOS) machines.

“The fact that the problem of the FTS did not see a repeat proves that we did something to correct the problems in 2010,” Brillantes pointed out.

An FTS days before the 2010 elections detected misconfigured compact flash cards, prompting the Comelec and automated poll system service provider Smartmatic-TIM Corp. to replace close to 80,000 CF cards nationwide.

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The Comelec expects the majority of the 77,829 clustered precincts spread in 36,772 voting centers nationwide to complete their FTS on schedule today. Some precincts encountered minor glitches after conducting FTS.

Lawyer Romulo Macalintal, meanwhile, challenged critics of the Comelec’s precinct count optical scan (PCOS) machines to let FTS procedure determine whether the system could be relied upon.

“Information Technology experts critical of the PCOS will be doing a great service to the nation if they could prove their vaunted claim that the PCOS system could be hacked, or its results could be tampered with,” Macalintal said.

“If everything turns out right or no major glitches occurred during such testing, these IT experts and critics of PCOS should be honest enough to admit their wrong impression or analysis of the PCOS and show their support to the Comelec for a successful, clean and credible election on May 13,” he said.

In Pampanga, PCOS machines are set for dry run today for “fine-tuning and familiarization,” said Comelec provincial chairman Fernando Cot-om.

“The PCOS machines have been transported direct to polling places and will remain there until election day,” Cot-om said. There are 501 polling places in the province.

At least 1,200 policemen and soldiers have been fielded to secure voting places in the province, Senior Superintendent Oscar Albayalde said. Ric Sapnu

Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi

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