Enough cops to monitor poll hotspots

February 13, 2019
Bernard M. Banac

With help of Armed Forces, PNP will keep tight watch on more than 700 election hotspots.

PHLIPPINE National Police spokesman Senior Superintendent Bernard M. Banac yesterday assured the citizenry they have sufficient number of policemen to monitor the situation in 701 so-called election hotspots throughout the country and ensure the May 13 national and local elections will be fair, peaceful and orderly.

The PNP spokesperson said that the PNP will be getting adequate support from the Armed Forces in ensuring peaceful mid-term polls. “Your 192,000-strong police force are ready, and in coordination with the Armed Forces will be monitoring and addressing the situation in all identified election areas of concern including those in Mindanao,’’  he said.

PNP chief Director General Oscar D. Albayalde on Tuesday said they are seriously considering some adjustments in the projected deployment of police units and personnel for election duties in nearly 43 percent of the country’s cities and municipalities amid threats to disrupt the campaign period and the actual May 13 polls.

The PNP chief said that the move is prompted by latest validated information of election watchlist of areas that identified a total of 701 election hotspots. The number actually comprises 42.9 percent of the 1,634 cities and municipalities across the country.

However, Banac said that the number of election areas of concern may still change in the days to come since police are continuing to conduct a regular assessment of the situation in those areas.

“May proseso pong ginagawa... linggu-linggo ay inaassess, may validation ng mga lugar kung ito ay mapapabilang pa sa kinoconsider na areas of concern. Maaaring ito ay matanggal naman. Hindi ibig sabihing ito’y umabot ng 701. Ito’y initial assessment lamang. Maaaring ito’y bumaba sa susunod na linggo o maaari din namang tumaas depende sa progress,” he explained.

Gen. Albayalde said that these election hotspots are categorized and color-coded according to a set of parameters, to wit: 223 election areas of concern (Yellow), 382 election areas of immediate concern (Orange), and 94 election areas of grave concern (Red).

He explained that areas under the Yellow category are those with a history of election-related incident in the last two elections, meaning the 2016 presidential and national elections and the recent barangay and Sangguniang Kabataan polls;  history of intense political rivalry; and areas that had been previously declared under Comelec control.

Areas under the Orange category include those with serious armed threat posed by the New People’s Army, Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters, Abu Sayyaf Group and rogue elements of the Moro National Liberation Front and/or Moro Islamic Liberation Front  and other analogous groups.

On the other hand, 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.

Gen. Albayalde said that 27 of the Red areas are located in the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao; 19 in Bicol region; seven each in Calabarzon region and in Western Mindanao; six each in Mimaropa region and Western Visayas; five in Northern Mindanao; four each in Region 12 or Socsksargen and Cordillera regions; three in Eastern Visayas; two each in Central Luzon and Southern Mindanao regions; and one each in Caraga and Cagayan Valley regions.

He said that there were no identified Red areas in Metro Manila and Ilocos-Pangasinan regions.

The PNP chief said that he has ordered all his 17 regional directors to fully implement the set of rules imposed by the Comelec specifically on prescribed limits of campaign activities and other illegal acts defined under the Omnibus Election Code.