NEGROS OCCIDENTAL, Philippines – For the local officials of Moises Padilla town here, their tourism industry has to take a back seat as the municipality is gaining notoriety for killings and violence.
Their mayor, Ella Garcia Yulo, survived an attempt on her life just 3 weeks before the May 13 polls but lost two of her closest loved ones during the ambush of her campaign convoy at an upland village.
Just a few days before the elections, President Rodrigo Duterte came down to the town, which is located in the central part of Negros Occidental, to assure its residents that it was safe to vote. The Commission on Elections also put the municipality under its control to ensure the safety of the voters.
Three months later, now on her 100th day as mayor, Yulo said the municipal officials are working hard to “regain the trust” of their constituents.
She was aware that people were afraid to visit her town due to the series of violence, which was the reason why her governance was more focused on the peace and order situation in her first 3 months of office.
“First of all, I have to secure my town and to make sure that peace and order is already felt by the people themselves. I don’t want to fast track or hurry in exposing my town or invite other people to come because I want to make sure first that the people are really safe when they come here,” she said.
She added her town would be put again in a bad light should there be incidents victimizing tourists.
The town, sitting on a backdrop of lush green mountain and natural beauty unknown to many, is known for its vast livestock yard, the major source of income of the municipality, which is two hours away from Negros Occidental’s capital city, Bacolod.
Yulo said she believes her constituents feel safe right now with her at the helm, “people have started to gossip at the streets. They also roam around the town.”
To strengthen its anti-criminality campaign, the municipal council recently passed an ordinance that prohibits motorcycle drivers from wearing bonnets, face masks, ski-masks or any clothing that would conceal their identities when passing through the town. This is because perpetrators usually conceal their faces when they attack unsuspecting victims.
The mayor also said the municipal government will establish a security command center by the end of this year to further strengthen its security measures, through monitoring the entry and exit points of the town. “This will help deter crime incidents,” she added. – Rappler.com
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