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NINETEEN towns and cities in Luzon and Mindanao have been placed in the watchlist for possible violence in the upcoming midterm elections, National Police chief Dir. Gen. Oscar Albayalde said.

Seven of the areas have a history of violent elections, while many are plagued by armed groups and threat groups like communist rebels, so they became "hotspots," Albayalde said.

The 19 possible hotspots according to the PNP are:

Sudipen and Balaoan in LaUnion

Jones in Isabela

Lemery in Batangas Roxas in Oriental Min-


Balud and Dimasalang in Masbate

Daraga in Albay Pagadian in Zamboanga del Sur

CagayandeOroCity in Misamis Oriental

Hadji Mohammad Ajul, Lantawan, and Tipo-Tipo in Basilan

Marawi City and Sultan Dumalundong in Lanao del Sur

Mamasapano, Shariff Aguak, Shariff Saydona Mustapha, and Datu Unsay in Maguindanao

The PNP previously listed 18 cities and towns, but Daraga was included after Mayor Carlwyn Baldo was accused of masterminding the killing of AKO Bicol partylist Rep. Rodel Batocabe, who was to run for mayor.

Albayalde said special security preparations have been lined up for Cotabato City and neighboring areas because of the New Year's Eve bombing that left at least two people dead.

A battalion of police commandoswill be sent toCotabato to help maintain security for plebiscite for the Bangsamoro Organic Law next week, he said.

"In some areas, we will see. We just have to consolidate our troops or re-deploy our personnel, particularly from the police regional mobile groups,"

On Sunday, the PNP started positioning lawmen in checkpoints across the country, to implement security measures like the gun ban for the 150-day election period.

Military troops will augment police teams in areas where threat groups like communist rebels operate, Albayalde said. — John Roson

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