THE Commission on Elections (Comelec) has placed the entire Mindanao and three other areas in the country under "category red" election hotspots.
Comelec spokesperson James Jimenez said in a statement Tuesday, March 19, that along with the entire Mindanao Island group in category red are Jones in Isabela, Lope de Vega in Northern Samar, and the entire province of Abra.
"The category red classification may warrant the motu proprio declaration of Comelec control over the affected area, and the Comelec en banc may direct the augmentation of personnel of the Philippine National Police (PNP) and Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) as the need arises," Jimenez said.
He said the declaration was due to election-related incidents in the last two elections, as well as the serious armed threats 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.
The Comelec, PNP, and AFP identify and classify election hotspots using the following system of classification: category green, yellow, orange and red.
Green refers to areas of no security concern and are relatively peaceful and orderly, while category yellow refers to areas with a history of election-related violence or the existence of intense partisan political rivalry, but without the participation of domestic terror groups.
Areas under category orange have the conditions set under yellow but there is a serious armed threats posed by domestic terror groups and other analogous armed groups.
Category red refers to areas where, while being under category orange, the relevant government agencies declare the existence of conditions that may constitute grounds for the declaration of Comelec control.
In a statement, PNP spokesperson Colonel Bernard Banac said they will abide by the declaration of the Comelec on election hotspots and make the necessary adjustments in their intensified security preparations.
"We shall continue to perform our mandate to enforce the law and ensure peace and order in the run up to the May 13 polls," he said.
Earlier, the PNP said 701 areas have been listed as election hotspots for the upcoming May polls.
Of the 701 election hotspots, 223 areas were under yellow category, 382 were under orange or areas of immediate concern, and 94 under red category or areas with grave concern. (SunStar Philippines)