He said the military and the police are closely monitoring the towns of Sibuco, Sirawai, Siocon and Baliguian in Zamboanga del Norte, and the towns of Ipil and Kabasalan in Zamboanga Sibugay.
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Alert up vs armed groups raising campaign funds
Roel Pareño (The Philippine Star) - October 19, 2018 - 12:00am

ZAMBOANGA CITY  , Philippines  —  Security forces are closely monitoring armed groups reportedly on a “fund-raising activity” for politicians running for the May 2019 elections in the Zamboanga peninsula, an election official revealed yesterday.

Commission on Elections (Comelec) regional director Wilfred Jay Balisado said some groups are reportedly planning to kidnap wealthy personalities in the effort to raise funds for some politicians running in next year’s midterm elections.

Based on the threat assessment of the National Intelligence Coordinating Agency (NICA), Balisado said there are armed groups in the region capable of kidnapping and extortion to raise funds.

He said the military and the police are closely monitoring the towns of Sibuco, Sirawai, Siocon and Baliguian in Zamboanga del Norte, and the towns of Ipil and Kabasalan in Zamboanga Sibugay.

“We have already some threat assessment. In fact, I had a meeting two days ago with NICA and I noted they have some alert level, including in the areas of Triple SB and those in Kabasalan and Ipil,” Balisado said, referring to the towns of Sibuco, Sirawai and Siocon.

He said the assessment was based on the previous kidnapping and extortion incidents in the areas where armed groups are known to operate.

“And the campaign period next year Feb. 12 to March, these armed groups will take the opportunity to raise money, permit to campaign or permit to enter their supposed territories. Those are the possibilities,” Balisado said.

Based on police and military reports, at least three kidnap victims separately taken since last year and August this year by armed groups in the areas of Labason, Siocon and Sirawai towns in Zamboanga del Norte are believed to have been transferred to the custody of the Abu Sayyaf in Sulu.

The military also disclosed that a town mayor and a businesswoman in the identified areas were also placed under watch for kidnapping by the armed group.

2019 MIDTERM ELECTIONS COMMISSION ON ELECTIONS
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