MANILA, Philippines - The Taguig City Police on Tuesday echoed the statement of the Secure and Fair Elections 2013 (SAFE) task force of the Philippine National Police that there is no need to declare the city an “election hotspot” and be placed under the control of the Commission on Elections (Comelec).
Taguig City Police chief, Senior Supt. Arthur Asis said despite last Saturday’s violent incident involving supporters of Taguig mayoralty bet Rica Tinga and supporters of Taguig City re-electionist Mayor Lani Cayetano, there is still no need to put the city under the Comelec’s control.
“The political situation in Taguig City can still be considered as peaceful as a whole,” Asis said.
“Tahimik sa pankahalatan ang sitwasyon sa Taguig. Walang dahilan na isailalim ito sa Comelec control. Ang nangyari noong Sabado ay isang isolated case lamang," he added.
Asis added that before a certain area can be declared an election “hot spot,” certain conditions must be present such as: the presence of threat groups such as the communist New People's Army, the proliferation of private armed groups, and widespread election-related violent incidents.
“All these are not present in Taguig City that's why Taguig cannot be categorized as a hot spot,” Asis said.
Chief Supt. Miguel Antonio, SAFE task force deputy commander earlier said the reported violent incidents in Manila and Taguig were considered isolated.
However, the Comelec is considering putting Taguig City in the list of “areas of immediate concern” following the violent incident.
Tinga on Monday appealed to President Aquino to stop the alleged harassment of her supporters by the camp of Mayor Cayetano. According to Tinga’s camp, their lawyers are now readying complaints of grave coercion, grave threats, serious physical injuries, attempted homicide and robbery against Mayor Cayetano and members of the Public Order and Safety Office (POSO) led by Kim Pautin. A case of election-related violence will also be filed before the Commission on Elections (Comelec) as Tinga’s camp also asks the poll body to place Taguig under its control.
On Saturday morning, 11 supporters of Taguig City mayoralty bet Rica Tiñga and an actor seeking a city council seat under her Kilusang Diwa ng Taguig (KDT) ticket were hurt after they were allegedly attacked by supporters of Cayetano. According to a statement from Tinga’s camp, the supporters and KDT council bet and actor Ervic Vijandre, 27, were conducting a house-to-house campaign at about 9:30 a.m. along P. Cruz St. in Barangay Tuktukan near the city hall when they were allegedly harassed by some 30 members of the city hall’s Public Order and Safety Office (POSO).
According to Tinga’s camp, the POSO men, who were positioned by the side gate of the city hall attacked the group with metal batons.
Jerry Goc-ong, 40, the group’s photographer, was chased and beaten by the POSO personnel and even got his Canon digital camera snatched after he allegedly tried taking photographs.
He was rushed to St. Luke’s Hospital at the Bonifacio Global City for head and body injuries, Tinga’s camp said.
Vijandre meanwhile, who is seeking a council seat for the city’s first district, sustained a deep cut on the head that later required four stitches after he was reportedly beaten-up by the suspects.
Another supporter, Crispina C. Hernandez, 56, suffered a broken nose, after a suspect with his face covered, allegedly threw a rock at her.
The other victims of the alleged attack were identified as: Guiama T. Batua, 27; Raymond D. Quimpo, 28; Christopher L. Gonzales, 37; Alexander Cary L. Gonzales, 39; Jose L. Garcia, Jr., 42; John Erick R. Asuncion, 18; Vanessa A. Santos, 18; Kawner I. Alojado, 18; and a female minor who handed out leaflets. According to Tinga’s camp, the KDT supporters were attacked after Tinga was seen entering the grounds of the city hall with her other supporters. Tinga said her group was attacked by the POSO personnel after she tried to enter the premises of the city hall. She said POSO head Pautin barred her and her supporters from entering the city hall grounds.