THE Philippine National Police (PNP) yesterday confirmed seven towns and provinces out of 19 considered election watchlist areas (EWAs) due to records of violence, heated political rivalry and threat of insurgents and other armed groups.
PNP Chief Director General Oscar Albayalde yesterday said that initially, the PNP listed 18 areas of concern but another place was added to the list.
“We have initially listed 18 pero nadagdagan as of today, kaya 19 na, “ Albayalde said.
“Out of that 19, we have validated that seven are really areas of grave concern, hot spots or EWAs na there were incidents of violence before. ‘Yung heated rivalry and presence of insurgents and other threat groups,” Albayalde said.
Among the provinces in the EWA list were La Union, Isabela, Batangas, Oriental Mindoro, Masbate, Albay, Zamboanga del Sur, Misamis Oriental, Basilan, Lanao del Sur, Maguindanao.
While the cities and towns included Supiden, Balaon and Jones in Isabela; Lemery in Batangas; Roxas in Oriental Mindoro; Balud and Dimasalang in Masbate; Daraga in Albay; Pagadian City in Zamboanga del Sur; Cagayan de Oro City; Hadji Mohammad Ajul, Lantawan, Tipo-Tipo, in Marawi City; Sultan Dumalundong, Mamasapano, Shariff Agual, Shariff Saydona Mustapha and Datu Unsay in Maguindanao.
Albayalde said the PNP will also deploy additional police officers in Mindanao to help secure the plebiscite .
“In Mindanao, we have sent a battalion of cops, maliban pa ito sa mga battalion na nandun na. That’s for the plebiscite alone. We deployed one more battalion in Cotabato at magkakaroon kami ng sendoff on January 18,” Albayalde said.
Albayalde earlier said these election hot spots will have Special Operations Task Group (SOTG) to be headed by different directorate for police operations.