‘Because of Masbate’ Bicol, 2nd, not 1st in list with most hotspot areas

By Mar S. Arguelles LEGAZPI CITY --- The Philippine National Police (PNP) in Bicol clarified on Tuesday the news report placing the Bicol Region as topping the list with most areas considered as hotspots across the country, Police Senior Inspector Maria Luisa Calubaquib, PNP Bicol spokesperson, said. Earlier, news reports quoted Police Chief Supt. John Bulalacao, PNP spokesman, at a news conference in Camp Crame as having cited Bicol as the top-ranked region followed by the Autonomous Region of Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) with over a thousand villages tagged as hotspots. Calubaquib in an interview said they have submitted to the PNP central office the corrected figure of 666 villages considered as election areas of concern or hotspot as against the 1,245 hotspot villages earlier, but erroneously, reported. She said the villages declared by the Commission on Elections during the 2013 barangay election as hot spots reached 666, where most of them were located in Masbate, traditionally considered as an election hotspot province during every election period. Calubaquib said Bicol is composed of 3,471 villages. Citing statistics during the 2013 Barangay election, Calubaquib said ARMM remained as the top region with hotspot villages while Bicol placed second. To be declared as an election hotspot, an area should have a history of the intense partisan political rivalry. Second, there have been incidents in the past that are politically motivated and election-related. Third, there is presence of threat groups such as political armed groups, the New People’s Army (NPA) rebels. Anf fourth, there is proliferation of firearms in a certain town, cities, and province.