PNP says 94 are election watchlist areas considered ''grave concerns''
Philippine National Police (PNP) Director General Oscar Albayalde on Tuesday said 94 out of the 701 election watchlist areas are considered “grave concerns”.
In a press briefing, Albyalade said the increase in the number of election hotspots are based on the parameters given by the Commission on Elections (Comelec).
“First is the presence of intense political rivalry and presence of CPP-NPA (Communist Party of the Philippines-New People's Army) and other threat groups. Also the history of election related violent incidents and possible election related violent incidents. And also the currently election related violent incidents,” he explained.
The PNP chief said the 701 election hotspots, which compromise of 42.9 percent of the 1,634 cities and municipalities across the country, are categorized and color-coded. These are 223 election areas of concern (yellow), 382 election areas of immediate concern (orange), and 94 election areas of grave concern (red).
Areas under the yellow category are those with a history of election-related incident in the last two elections; history of intense political rivalry; and areas that had been under Comelec control.
Five areas in Metro Manila are placed under this category: the cities of Mandaluyong, Manila, Caloocan, Malabon and Pasay.
Areas under the orange category include those with serious armed threat by the New People’s Army (NPA), Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF), Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG) and rogue elements of the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) or Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) and other analogous groups.
Areas under the red category show combined factors under yellow and orange categories such that it may warrant the motu proprio declaration of Comelec control.
Twenty-seven red areas were identified in ARMM (Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao), 19 in Bicol Region, seven each in Calabarzon and Western Mindanao, six each in Mimaropa and Western Visayas, five in Northern Minadano, four each in Socsksargen and Cordillera, three in Eastern Visayas, two each in Central Luzon and Davao region, and one each in Caraga and Cagayan Valley region.
Albayalde said there are no red areas in National Capital Region and Ilocos.
“The increase was seen in election areas of grave concern. This is what we most considered as hotspots, from the 19 original we give, based on the Comelec resolution no. 10481 it became 94,” he said.
He said from these 94 areas, Comelec is still studying what areas should be under their control.
“As of this time, we only have two areas under Comelec control,” said Albayalde.
These are Cotabato City and Daraga in Albay. He said Lanao del Norte is still an area of concern.
The PNP will check and realign deployment of personnel with the number of election hotspots and the decision of the Comelec but he said there is no need to secure those areas of grave concern as they are confident to secure them.
“We are more than 192,000 or almost 200,000 and also with the augmentation coming from the AFP.(Armed Forces of the Philippines) We are confident that we will be able to secure the voting population and all voting centers in our country,” said Albayalde.
He said they will remain apolitical and protect the will of the electorate by ensuring honest, orderly and peaceful elections in May. Ella Dionisio/DMS