15 cities, 105 towns among 300 possible ‘areas of election concern’
RG Cruz, ABS-CBN News
Posted at Apr 07 2022 02:47 PM | Updated as of Apr 07 2022 04:37 PM
MANILA — At least 15 cities and over 105 municipalities have been recommended to the Commission on Elections (Comelec) to be declared areas of concern, or where election violence may persist, officials said Thursday.
“We already have the list of election areas of concern or what we call the hotspots particularly the red tagged areas. I think we have about 15 cities and 105 municipalities,” said Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) secretary Eduardo Año, whose agency supervises the PNP.
PNP said it used previous data in determining which areas should be declared as areas of concern.
“Basically we looked at the historical data in the last 2 elections tapos yung presence ng possible threat groups or PAGs (private armed groups) kung meron and the latest validation or situation on the ground,“ PNP chief Dionido Carlos said.
The top cop said PNP is also coordinating with the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) and the Philippine Coast Guard to “further validate information on some 300 localities recommended to be categorized as election areas of concern.”
Both the PNP and Comelec declined anew to name these areas for now as the poll body is still verifying the data submitted by the PNP in its recommendations.
“As far as I know hindi pa po completed ang validation natin. This was the statement by Comm. George Carcia last week about the submissions… We hope that within the week or within what’s left of the week we will be able to release the list,” Comelec spokesman James Jimenez said.
Jimenez said validation is necessary to make sure that the declaration would cause minimal disruption to the lives of the residents.
“We find it very disruptive to the local community kung bigla bigla tayo papasok diyan at magdedeklara tayo ng hotspot.” Jimenez added. In some cases, hotspots that are really violent are placed under Comelec control.
DILG, PNP assure ‘impartiality’
Meanwhile, the DILG and PNP both vowed to be impartial in their duties during the election season.
“That’s the standing order: we are ready to prosecute anyone within the department or within the uniformed services under the DILG to go after any violator or anyone who will play politics. Iyan ang assurance namin sa public we will do our job properly,” Año said.
“Ang battlecry namin ay PNP will perform professionally for a peaceful election, we always follow our command line, wala ho kami natatanggap na illegal order,” Carlos said.