941 areas declared election hotspots: PNP
The Philippine National Police ( PNP) said around 941 areas are declared as election hotspots.
“Based on the latest validated information of election watchlist of areas we have identified a total of 941 election hotspots that comprise 57.60 percent of the 1,634 cities and municipalities nationwide,” PNP Director General Oscar Albayade said in a press briefing on Monday.
He said with the recent declaration of the Commission on Elections placing the entire Mindanao under the “Red” category of election hotspots, all 454 cities and municipalities of 27 provinces in the six regions of Mindanao are now listed as election areas of grave concern.
“Across the country, there are 570 areas under the “Red” category. As such, the Comelec may, upon further evaluation of the prevailing security situation, place any of these areas under its control,” said Albayalde.
According to the PNP, as of March 20, 118 Red areas were identified in Autonomous Region Muslim Mindanao, 93 areas in Northern Mindanao, 73 areas in Caraga region, 72 Zamboanga Peninsula, 49 areas each in Davao Region and SOCCSKSARGEN (South Cotabato, Cotabato, Sultan Kudarat, Sarangani, and General Santos), 45 areas in Eastern Visayas, 28 areas in Cordillera Region, 21 areas in Bicol Region, five areas in Calabarzon (Cavite, Laguna, Batangas, Rizal and Quezon), four areas each in Central Luzon and Western Visayas, there are two in Cagayan Valley and one area in Central Visayas.
“Currently, there are no Red Areas in the National Capital Region and Ilocos region,” he said.
Meanwhile, 131 towns and cities are placed under “Yellow” category or areas of concern, 238 election areas are now in immediate concern or “Orange”, and two areas are now under Comelec which are Cotabato City and Daraga, Albay.
The PNP chief said they don’t know the “wisdom” of Comelec on why decided to place the whole Mindanao under “Red” category.
“This is probably just to ensure the deployment of personnel there are enough. It’s not necessarily that if you are under the red area of areas of grave concern means your place is chaotic especially in Mindanao since we just finished the BOL (plebiscite),” said Albayalde.
Albayalde said maybe the validation committee thought those who are against the BOL may create trouble during the election.
“We want to ensure a peaceful elections,” he said.
With these changes, Albayalde said there will be a re-alignment in their deployment.
“In fact I will be traveling together with some officers to check personally the deployment of our people in these areas, especially those under the areas of grave concern or color red.
Especially Abra because that’s a perennial problem province every election and also the whole Mindanao,” he said.
“And we basically create a special operations task group headed by (a) senior officer,” Albayalde added.
On Friday, March 29 will be the start of campaign period for local candidates and Albayalde said their focused police operations will be intensified against private armed groups, criminal gangs, wanted persons, gun for hire groups. Ella Dionisio/DMS