PNP lists 19 elec­tion ar­eas of con­cern

Sun.Star Pampanga - - STORY! -

A T LEAST 19 towns and cities were listed as ar­eas of con­cern due to elec­tion-re­lated vi­o­lent in­ci­dents recorded there, Philip­pine Na­tional Po­lice (PNP) Chief Os­car Al­bay­alde said on Mon­day, Jan­uary 14.

Al­bay­alde said among the ar­eas of con­cern are the mu­nic­i­pal­i­ties of Sudipen, Balaoan and Jones in Is­abela, Le­mery in Batan­gas, Roxas town in Ori­en­tal Min­doro, Balud and Di­masalang in Mas­bate, and Daraga town in Al­bay.

The list also in­cludes ar­eas in the Min­danao re­gion such as Pa­ga­dian City in Zam­boanga del Sur, Ca­gayan de Oro City, Hadji Mo­ham­mad Ajul, Tipo-Tipo and Lantawan in Basi­lan, S ul tan Du­malun­dong, Ma­mas­apano, Shar­iff Aguak, Shar­iff Say­dona Mustapha, Datu Un­say Maguin­danao Marawi city.

“Out of that 19, we have val­i­dated seven that these ar­eas are really hotspots or EWAs (Elec­tion Watch­list Ar­eas) na there were in­ci­dents of vi­o­lence be­fore, ‘yung heated ri­valry and pres­ence of in­sur­gents and other threat groups,” said Al­bay­alde.

On Thurs­day, Jan­uary 10, the PNP, Armed Forces of the Philip­pines and the Com­mis­sion on Elec­tions (Com­elec) con­ducted an in­ter­a­gency con­fer­ence to dis­cuss se­cu­rity mea­sures for the up­com­ing midterm elec­tions.

in and The Com­elec gun ban took ef­fect on Jan­uary 13 which man­dates the PNP to es­tab­lish check­points to hin­der the pos­si­ble trans­port of firearms and ex­plo­sives which may be used to sow vi­o­lence in the up­com­ing elec­tions.

The Com­elec said they are still study­ing the rec­om­men­da­tion of the lo­cal Com­elec of­fi­cials to place Daraga town and Cota­bato City un­der Com­elec con­trol due to vi­o­lent in­ci­dents such as the killing of Ako Bi­col Party-list rep­re­sen­ta­tive Rodel Ba­to­cabe on De­cem­ber 22.

In the case of Cota­bato City, Al­bay­alde said they have made “spe­cial se­cu­rity prepa­ra­tions” fol­low­ing the New Year’s eve bomb­ing that killed two peo­ple and wounded 32 oth­ers.

He said one bat­tal­ion from the elite Spe­cial Ac­tion Force has been de­ployed in Cota­bato City in ad­di­tion to the po­lice and mil­i­tary forces there for the con­duct of plebiscite for the Bangsamoro Or­ganic Law next week, which was al­legedly the rea­son be­hind the said bomb­ing there.

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

The PNP has started the strate­gic de­ploy­ment of its forces to en­sure peace and or­der dur­ing the 150-day elec­tion pe­riod.

Al­bay­alde said the PNP's se­cu­rity op­er­a­tions in­clude the fol­low­ing eight-point plan:

- Strict im­ple­men­ta­tion of gun ban;

- In­ten­si­fied fo­cus law en­force­ment op­er­a­tions;

- Dis­man­tling of pri­vate armed groups;

- Early prepa­ra­tion of se­cu­rity and con­tin­gency plans;

- Pro­vide se­cu­rity to vul­ner­a­ble can­di­dates;

- Lim­ited reshuf­fle of PNP per­son­nel;

- Ac­count­ing of loose firearms; and

- Neu­tral­iza­tion of gun for hire and crim­i­nal gangs.

Al­bay­alde also said all nor­mal law en­force­ment and pub­lic safety func­tions will con­tinue without letup.

“Be­cause our coun­try holds na­tional and lo­cal elec­tions ev­ery three years, elec­tion se­cu­rity has be­come an al­most per­fect sci­ence in the PNP such that ev­ery unit and per­son­nel has had some amount of ex­pe­ri­ence and skill in per­form­ing elec­tion duty,” he said.

“Each time, there are al­ways les­sons learned from pre­vi­ous ex­pe­ri­ence that al­low us to in­no­vate and im­prove on how to ad­dress sit­u­a­tions. And al­ways we put our best foot for­ward to ac­com­plish the mis­sion,” he added. (Third Anne Per­alta-Malonzo/ SunS­tar Philip­pines)

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