Number of provincial election hotspots, decreased according to PNP

admin   •   December 8, 2015   •   2474

FILE PHOTO: Voters passing outside of the polling precinct in Pilot Elementary School, Buluan, Maguindanao, 13 May 2013. (Photoville International)

FILE PHOTO: Voters passing outside of the polling precinct in Pilot Elementary School, Buluan, Maguindanao, 13 May 2013. (Photoville International)

QUEZON CITY, Philippines — The number of provinces which are considered election hotspots or areas of concern by the Philippine National Police have decreased.

According to PNP Chief Director Gen. Ricardo Marquez, there are 6 to 7 provinces which where identified by the directorate for intelligence as areas of immediate concern.

This is lower compared with the 15 provinces recorded as election hotspots in 2013.

However, the general has refused to name these provinces while they are still in the process of conducting the assessment related to the strong political rivalry in the areas.

General Marquez said, “The director for intelligence has the list already divided in 3 categories, and I think there are 7 priority provinces and in 2013 we had 15 priority provinces.”

A province is commonly identified as a hotspot if there is a searing political rivalry or strong competition which may lead to violence, if there is the presence of private armed groups or PAGs, including rebel groups.

Meanwhile, General Marquez says, the COMELEC will enforce gun ban on January 10 as part of preparations for the implementation of security in the upcoming national elections.

It will last until June 8, one month after the said elections.

“Control of instrument of violence so, we like to make sure that instrument of violence are kept from people who would like to so fear or mar the electoral process,” Marquez added.

The general further added that during election the PNP is focused on its campaign against PAGs, gun for hire and illegal possession of firearms however, he said that these campaign should be enforced daily in order to prevent violence not only during election. (LEA YLAGAN / UNTV News)

PNP beefs up security in Abra as local campaigning kicks off

Marje Pelayo   •   March 29, 2019

BENGUET PROVINCE, Philippines – Philippine National Police (PNP) Police General Oscar Albayalde presided a command conference on Friday (March 29) at Camp Bado Dangwa in La Trinidad to discuss security plans in the coming election.

The talks, in particular, tackled areas of concern including the province of Abra classified by the Commission on Elections (Comelec) as
an area of grave concern or under the red category.

Election violence has been a perennial problem in the area.

“Hopefully sana itong election na ito magkaroon ng zero incident doon sa province na yan. Probably sa next election sa 2022 hindi na mailagay sa hotspot ang Abra, kung makita talaga ng Comelec at ng taong bayan na hindi na talaga kailangang bantayan (sila),” Albayalde said.

(Hopefully this election the province will achieve the zero-incident target. Probably in the next election in 2022, Abra will no longer be named a hotspot. If the Comelec and the people will prove that there is no need for them to be guarded.)

Albayalde also ordered strict monitoring of the province of Kalinga specifically the town of Lubuagan where election-related cases were high in 2016.

The Police Chief directed his men to intensify the conduct of checkpoints and 24/7 patrol now that the local campaign period has started.

Based on the record of the Police Regional Office Cordillera, there are 10 areas of immediate concern; 28 are areas of grave concern while 38 are considered hotspots or under the yellow category.

Meanwhile, a total of 39 towns in the region are still not having any security threat.

“Pwede pang magbago ulit iyan so every time we have to re align our deployment,” Albayalde noted.

(That can change because every time we have to re-align our deployment.)Marje Pelayo (with reports from Grace Doctolero)

PNP alert level up as local campaign period begins Friday

Robie de Guzman   •   March 28, 2019

MANILA, Philippines – The Philippine National Police (PNP) has placed its forces on heightened alert in preparation for the start of the campaign period for local bets on Friday, March 28.

During the heightened alert, police visibility across the country will be intensified, the duty hours of police personnel are extended and leaves of absence are cancelled.

PNP Spokesperson Police Colonel Bernard Banac explained the increased police presence and ground operations, especially in areas under the control of the Commission on Elections (Comelec), aims to prevent the occurrence of election-related crimes as local campaign and elections tend to get more heated.

“Inaasahan natin na magiging mainit ang magiging kampanya sa local na level subalit ang PNP ay nakahanda na tumugon sa lahat ng pangangailangan, sa mga insidente maaaring mangyari,” Banac said.

(We expect that the looming local campaign period will get more heated, but the PNP is ready to respond to all possible scenarios.)

Banac added that they will closely monitor the status of the so-called election hotspots in the country.

The PNP has identified more than 700 hotspots for the 2019 midterm elections when the official campaign period for national candidates began last February 12.

Of this number, there are 223 areas of concern or under yellow category, which means there is an intense political rivalry or a history of election-related incident in these areas.

Orange category or areas of immediate concern due to serious armed threat or presence of rebels and terrorists cover 382 barangays; while more than 90 were placed under red category or areas of grave concern for exhibiting combined factors of the first two categories.

Last week, Comelec declared the entire Mindanao as an election hotspot under category red due to serious armed threats made by rebels and terrorists groups such as the New People’s Army and the Abu Sayyaf Group.

READ: Comelec declares entire Mindanao, other areas as 2019 poll hotspots

The PNP, however, assured that its forces are ready to respond to any poll-related violence that may arise in the run-up to the Midterm Elections slated on May 13.

“Kung meron mang sumiklab na karahasan lalo na sa mga nasa red category o areas of grave concern ay nakahanda po ang buong PNP at kaagapay natin ang AFP na rumesponde sa anomang pangyayari,” Banac assured.

(In case violence breaks out especially in areas under red category or areas of grave concern, the entire PNP force is ready, with the help of the AFP [Armed Forces of the Philippines], to respond to any scenario)

The PNP also urged the candidates anew to strictly observe election rules to avoid any untoward incidents.

Policemen are also reminded to remain apolitical or refrain from engaging in any political campaign or word war among election bets. – Robie de Guzman (with details from Lea Ylagan)

Comelec allays concerns over tagging of Mindanao as poll hotspot

Robie de Guzman   •   March 21, 2019

MANILA, Philippines – The Commission on Elections (Comelec) on Thursday allayed concerns over its decision to declare the whole of Mindanao as a category red election hotspot.

The poll body on Tuesday (March 19) tagged the entire region as poll hotspot in the run-up to the 2019 May Midterm elections due to “serious armed threats” made by the New People’s Army, the Abu Sayyaf Group and other terrorist groups.

READ: Comelec declares entire Mindanao, other areas as 2019 poll hotspots

Some groups have raised concerns that the declaration may lead the Comelec to favor certain candidates in the coming polls. However, the commission assured that this will not happen.

“With regard to the apprehension that this declaration might lead to partisanship by the COMELEC, the election management body reassures the public that this will not happen,” Comelec Spokesperson James Jimenez said in a statement.

Jimenez said the decision to place the entirety of Mindanao under Comelec control “was the result of consultation with local Comelec officials, as well as the PNP (Philippine National Police) and AFP (Armed Forces of the Philippines).”

“While it cannot be gainsaid that there are areas within Mindanao that are relatively peaceful, the inescapable reality is that election-related violent incidents respect no municipal borders; and that the activities of armed groups and terror organizations are not always clearly demarcated,” he explained.

Jimenez also assured that the results reporting procedures of the automated election system will remain transparent and protected.

“The results reporting procedures of the automated election system are fully transparent and protected by multiple redundancies which, by and large, have been proven successful in preventing cheating in the last three automated elections – 2010, 2013, and 2016,” the Comelec official said.

“There is no reason to fear that it will be otherwise in 2019,” he added.

The assurance followed the call of Akbayan Rep. Tom Villarin for Comelec to review its decision, claiming that President Rodrigo Duterte only wants to use the poll body “to subvert the electoral process to [ensure] its favored candidates’ victory” in the coming polls.

However, Jimenez stressed that “the Comelec simply seeks to ensure utmost responsiveness to whatever need may arise” when it placed Mindanao under category red. – Robie de Guzman

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