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Calbayog City, 3 Samar towns identified as election areas of immediate concern

February 9, 2007

CATBALOGAN, Samar  –  Due to a number of election-related violence that took place in last two elections, Calbayog City was identified by the Philippine National Police (PNP) here as an election area of immediate concern.

In a recent police report, Samar PNP placed the City on top of the list election "hot spots" due to the intense political rivalry that exists between political leaders in the area.

Lately, Former 1st District Congressman Rodolfo Tuazon of the ruling Lakas Party confirmed his intention to run as City Mayor this coming May elections against the incumbent Mel Sarmiento who is allied with Congressman Reynaldo S. Uy of the Liberal Party.

In the 2004 elections, a number of election-related violence have been recorded in the City reportedly perpetrated by the Partisan Armed Groups (PAGs) allegedly maintained by both camps.

It was in the same political rivalry that cost the life of Tarangnan Mayor Anieto Olaje who was shot dead inside the Calbayog City Cockpit last 2004. Olaje was identified with the camp of Tuazon.

Aside from these political conflicts, however, the presence of the communist rebels has also been reported. The Central Front Committee 2 and the Northern Front Committee 1 of the New People’s Army (NPA) is operating in the area.

The police authorities likewise identified the towns of San Jorge and Gandara of the 1st District and Daram of the 2nd District under the same category.

San Jorge Mayor Joseph Grey has already announced his intention to run as congressman in the 1st district against the incumbent Congressman Uy. Both camps are allegedly maintaining PAGs.

The recent killing of Daram Mayor Benito Astorga, on the other hand, put the town in the limelight. Astorga was shot dead by two assailants last January 25 while attending a fiesta dance in the town’s island barangay Birawan.

The police noted a long standing feud between the Astorga and the camp of Samar ’s 2nd district congressman Catalino Figueroa.

Samar PNP Chief SSupt Asdali Idja Abah in an earlier interview vowed to run after these PAGs to ensure a more peaceful and orderly elections in Samar.