By Ivy Tejano and Mike Crismundo
DAVAO CITY – Authorities in the Davao region are already updating and validating the previous list of Election Watch list Areas (Ewas) that has been identified in the 2018 Barangay and Sangguniang Kabataan Elections (BSKEs) as the country gears up for the 2019 mid-term polls.
Police Regional Office (PRO) 11 spokesperson Chief Inspector Jason Baria said there were 2,025 total barangays in the authorities’ Ewas list during in 2018 elections. He added that the changes will be made after the validation of the previous list.
“As of now, there are no identified election hotspots here in Davao region. It [The list] is still the same,” Baria said, adding that under the watch list, areas in the region are still identified under three categories to specify the level of concerns.
Inclusion into the list would include intense political rivalry, the presence of armed groups, activities of criminal gangs, proliferation of loose firearms, and activities of threat groups.
Areas included under Category 1 are barangays where politically motivated violent incidents are likely to occur due to intense partisan political rivalries.
Baria said the occurrence of violence could be due to the presence of private armed groups (PAGs), loose firearms, and the availability of force multipliers like gun-for-hire gangs and other armed groups.
He said villages in Category 2, on the other hand, have serious armed threats posed by organized threat groups including the Communist Party of the Philippines/New People’s Army (CPP/NPA), BIFM/BIFF, the Abu Sayyaf Group, and rogue elements of the Moro National Liberation Front and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front.
Meanwhile, areas in Category 3 are places where risks found in the first two categories exist.
The Commission on Elections (Comelec) may place areas placed in Category 4 under its immediate and direct control, following the history of intense political rivalries among the candidates, serious armed threats, fraud or other election irregularities and threats that tend to disrupt the holding of free, peaceful, honest, orderly and credible elections in any political unit or area.
Data obtained from PRO-11 showed that Davao City has seven districts placed under Category 2; Davao del Sur has three municipalities under Category 1 and another 3 under Category 2/3, respectively; two municipalities in Davao Occidental under Category 2; eight in Davao del Norte under Category 2; 11 in Compostela Valley under Category 2; and six in Davao Oriental under Category 2.
No exemption to gun ban
CAMP COL. RAFAEL C. RODRIGUEZ, Butuan City – The regional command of Northeastern Mindanao Police Regional Office 13 (PRO 13) warned yesterday all candidates in the upcoming mid-term elections that nobody will be exempted from the election gun ban that is set to begin on Sunday, Jan. 13, 2019. The six-month election gun ban will end on June 12, 2019.
During the election gun ban, all licenses to carry firearms outside of residences are suspended.
Only members of the Philippine National Police (PNP), Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP), National Bureau of Investigation and other law enforcement units who are on duty are issued written permits by the Commission on Elections (Comelec) to carry firearms.
The regional command of PRO 13 reminded the candidates as well as the general public to abide by the election gun ban, particularly civilians who are not authorized to carry guns.
“We are appealing to the different candidates in any party group or individual in this midterm election to safe-keep or to surrender their firearms to the police station near them,” PRO 13 Regional Director Chief Supt. Gilberto DC Cruz said.
The region’s police chief already ordered field unit commanders to intensify checkpoints, as well as police visibility in their respective areas of responsibility during the campaign and election period.
The officials and members of the Regional Joint Security Coordinating Committee (RJSCC) in Northeastern Mindanao or Caraga region are set to reconvene to tackle pressing issues and guidelines in relation to the May Polls rules and regulations in an effort to achieve a peaceful and orderly election.