A TOTAL of 701 areas have been listed as election hotspots for the upcoming 2019 midterm elections, the Philippine National Police (PNP) said on Tuesday, February 12.
"On election matters, as the campaign period gets underway for national elective positions in the May 13, 2019 midterm elections, the PNP is seriously considering some adjustments in our projected deployment of police units and personnel for election duties," PNP Chief Oscar Albayalde said.
"The move is prompted by latest validated information of election watchlist of areas that identified a total of 701 election hotspots that comprise 42.9 percentof the 1,634 cities and municipalities across the country," he added.
Of the 701 election hotspots, 223 areas were under yellow category, 382 were under orange category or areas of immediate concern, and 94 areas under red category or areas with grave concern. Two areas -- Cotabato City and Daraga town in Albay -- remain under Comelec control.
Albayalde said if an area was placed under yellow category, it means there was a history of election-related incident in the last two elections, as well as intense political rivalry, and that it had been previously declared under Commission on Elections (Comelec) control.
Areas under orange category include towns or municipalities where there is serious armed threat posed 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) and Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF), and other analogous groups.
Areas under the red category exhibit the combined factors under the yellow and orange categories, such that it may warrant the motu proprio declaration of Comelec control.
Of the 94 areas under grave concern, 27 were in the Autonomous Region of Muslim Mindanao (Armm), 19 in Bicol, seven each in Calabarzon and Western Mindanao, six each in Mimaropa and Western Visayas, five in Northern Minadano, four each in Soccsksargen and Cordillera Administrative Region, three in Eastern Visayas, two each in Central Luzon and Davao, and one each in Caraga and Cagayan Valley.
Regions without areas with grave concern include Ilocos, National Capital Region (NCR), and Central Visayas.
In the NCR, five areas, particularly Manila, Caloocan, Pasay, Mandaluyong and Malabon were under yellow category.
Meanwhile, Cotabato City was placed under Comelec control due to series of bombings there, while in Daraga, AKO Bicol party-list Representative Rodel Batocabe was killed allegedly over political rivalry.
“Currently in effect for the entire duration of the campaign period is a set of rules imposed by the Comelec specifically on prescribed limits of campaign activities and other illegal acts defined under the Omnibus Election Code,” said Albayalde.
“Let me reiterate the PNP’s strict adherence to all related Comelec resolutions covering the ban on carrying of firearms and employment of bodyguards. Everyone is reminded of the Alunan Doctrine that allow only two security personnel under extreme cases, subject to background investigation and approval by Comelec,” he added. (SunStar Philippines)