Lingayen- – – The Sangguniang Panlalawigan passed a resolution expressing dismay over a declaration by the Department of the Interior and Local Government in the list of 15 hot spots in the country which caused an uproar in the entire province.
The resolution, entitled, “Expressing the deep sense of dismay and frustration in the identification of Pangasinan among the election high-risk spots in the 2013 election and seeking the immediate removal of the province from the said list by the Honorable Dept. of the Interior and Local Government Secretary Mar Roxas,” is the unanimous move of the provincial and local government officials to disprove the negative perception tagged against the province.
In the question hour during the Sanggunaing Panlalawigan’s regular session on December 3, DILG Regional Director said that his office was “not consulted regarding the matter nor asked to submit any report.”
Guray said that she was surprised to learn the inclusion of Pangasinan in the list of 15 high-risk provinces, as she pointed out that the province is an awardee of the Gawad Pamana ng Lahi Award (the mother of all governance awards).
“I may not know the other parameters used but Pangasinan will vie against 6 other provinces in the entire country in the national level for GPL award,”guray said as she noted that one of the factors of the search pertains to peace and order.
Earlier, the provincial government conducted a consultation-dialogue with local government officials and other national agencies like COMELEC, DILG and PNP on Safe Elections 2013 where 35 town and city mayors of Pangasinan signed a resolution seeming to delis the province as high risk spot.
Board Member Agerico Rosario said that while the province has been earning numerous awards and citations over the past five years, the high-risk tag has caused a negative impression for Pangasinan.
PNP Police Senior Supt and OIC Provincial Director Mariano Luis M. Verzosa, Jr. noted that there are five parameters considered before an area can be dubbed as election hot spot.
According to Verzosa, the parameters include presence of private armed groups, history of election-related incidents, shooting incidents victimizing political personalities, proliferation of loose firearms/end of renewed license, and intense political rivalry.
While the PNP OIC said that although there are some isolated cases involving at least nine towns in the province, he reported that Pangasinan has the lowest index crime rate in Region I.
Positive steps undertaken by the police force, Verzosa said, involve the creation of Special Task Force 2013 that will mobilize PNP units and regional special units like DILG among others.
Most senior Board Member Alfonso Bince, Jr. said that even without consultation and “relevant sharing,” Pangasinan was included by the DILG in the list thus, he stressed, the move to strongly refute the declaration is justifiable since that the province is generally peaceful and there had never been any reported violence in the past (during and after the holding of national and local elections).
Meanwhile, Board Member Ranjit Shahani said that the high-risk tag basically not fair to Pangasinan considering the PNP report that the province posted the lowest in terms of crime rate percentage as compared to the three other provinces in Region I.
Copies of the resolution will be forwarded to Pres. Benigno Simeon C. Aquino III, DILG Secretary Mar Roxas, and PNP Police Chief Nicanor Bartolome. (PIO/Ruby R. Bernardino)