THE Police Regional Office (PRO)-Davao has placed six areas in the region under election watchlist of areas (EWAs) due to possible election-related violence.

PRO-Davao spokesperson Eudisan Gultiano said in a virtual presser on Wednesday, January 26, that areas under EWAs are Pantukan and Monkayo in Davao de Oro; and Digos City, Matanao, Kiblawan, and Magsaysay in Davao del Sur.

Gultiano said that among the factors a certain locality will be placed under watchlist are history of election-related violence and presence of different armed groups that might disrupt the elections.

"These include potential threats sa (among) election candidates, intense political rivalries among parties and candidates, presence or employment of partisan armed groups, and criminal gangs, proliferation of loose firearms, activities and capabilities of CTG [communist terror groups] and LTG [local terror groups] and other threat groups in the area, and mga ibang factors kasama na ang (and other factors including) surge of Covid-19 cases," the PRO official said during the AFP-PNP Press Corps Southern Mindanao virtual presser.

In the case of Monkayo, the spokesperson said there had been election-related violence in the past due to uprising political rivalries among candidates, while the areas of Matanao, Kiblawan, and Magsaysay were placed under EWAs as they are on the hinterland, of which the presence of terror groups would cause threat and fear in the electoral areas.

She added these areas are placed under immediate concern based on their assessment.

But she said the list might be updated as the May 2022 elections are fast approaching.

The official said watchlist areas can expect police visibility and deployment would be intensified, including mounting of checkpoints, to ensure safety and security among voters, and to avoid uprising of election violence.

Gultiano also said the Covid-19 surge in a certain area had recently been included in the Commission on Elections (Comelec) parameters in declaring a place under EWAs.

"We also consider that in determining how many police should be deployed because we need to control, we need to help them monitor and give warnings to all personnel in the area in the implementation and observation of health protocols," she said.

She added that as of now, no areas were placed under the "election hotspot," as they have not yet received reports of grave political instability in the region.

Effective January 9, 2022, Comelec suspended the permit to carry firearms outside of residence for civilians in accordance with the gun ban for the election season. This is in accordance with Comelec Resolution 10728.