PNP identifies 15 'election hotspots'-A A +A
Tuesday, April 30, 2013
MANILA – Authorities on Tuesday identified 15 provinces in the priority watch list of the Philippine National Police (PNP) where there could be violence during the May 13 midterm elections.
The 15 provinces are Abra in Cordillera Administrative Region; Pangasinan, Ilocos Sur and La Union in Ilocos Region; Cagayan in Cagayan Valley; Pampanga and Nueca Ecija in Central Luzon; Batangas and Cavite in Calabarzon; Masbate in Bicol Region; Samar in Eastern Visayas; Misamis Occidental in Northern Mindanao; and Maguindanao, Lanao del Sur and Basilan in the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao.
In a press briefing at the PNP headquarters in Camp Crame, Quezon City, Interior and Local Government Secretary Manuel Roxas II described the 15 provinces as "hotspots."
He said the provinces were included in the priority watch list based on several factors and objective criteria including the presence of private armed groups, loose firearms, intense political rivalries, past history of election violence, and the presence of other threat groups like terrorists and communist rebels, among others.
He said the police have also identified 60 active private armed groups (PAGs) and another 47 with the potential to become PAGs that could be utilized by politicians to harass and intimidate voters during the polls.
"We want to show that elections are different under the administration of President PNoy (President Benigno Aquino III) to ensure that the will of the people is truly reflected in the elections," he said.
The PNP estimates around 363,000 loose firearms nationwide, with another 571,303 firearms with non-renewed licenses as per the records of the Firearms and Explosives Office.
"We do not want to be caught flat-footed. We are already creating Special Task Forces for each of these provinces with a command structure that will allow them to assist the provincial commander in the maintenance of peace and order," the Cabinet secretary said.
Roxas said additional 30,000 policemen will be augmented in areas that have shown incidents of intense political rivalries, two weeks before Election Day.
He said 18,000 police desk officers will be given field duties starting May 6 to ensure clean and safe polls. The additional 12,000 will come from PNP recruits who will be tapped from their trainings/schoolings, he added.
"We are two and a half months earlier in our preparations. We did not wait for the campaign period to start," Roxas said. "There is a logical identification of high-risk areas, as well as the rational deployment of personnel and resources."
PNP chief Director General Allan Purisima, meanwhile, said all policemen are not allowed to go on leave during on May 13.
Media centers will also be established days before the midterm polls to ensure fast monitoring of election-related incidents.
Roxas also said they already talked to power and telecommunication providers to ensure uninterrupted service on Election Day. (Glaiza Jarloc/Sunnex)