By Martin Sadongdong
Exactly seven weeks before the May 13 midterm elections, the Philippine National Police (PNP) identified on Monday at least 941 poll hotspots nationwide where police force are expected to be augmented.
Director General Oscar Albayalde, PNP chief, said the number is equivalent to 57.60 percent of the total 1,634 cities and municipalities in the country.
Of the 941 election hotspots, 131 towns and cities are in the “Yellow” category; 238 in “Orange,” 570 in “Red” while two others – Cotabato City and Daraga, Albay – were already placed under the control of the Commission on Elections (Comelec).
The Comelec, PNP, and Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) identify and classify election hotspots into four categories: Green, Yellow, Orange, and Red.
Category Green refers to areas of no security concern and are relatively peaceful and orderly.
Category Yellow are areas with a history of election-related violence or existence of intense partisan political rivalry.
Category Orange includes areas where, aside from having the factors considered in the Category Yellow, there are also serious threats posed by domestic terror groups and the likes.
Lastly, Category Red is comprised of areas where, aside from the factors considered in Category Orange, relevant government agencies declare the existence of conditions which may constitute grounds for the declaration of Comelec control.
Albayalde said that areas placed under Red category will be given more monitoring since this is where election-related incidents are likely to occur.
Of the 570 areas under the Red category, 454 are cities and municipalities of the 27 provinces in the six regions of Mindanao. The Comelec had earlier declared the entire region under the Red category.
As of March 20, 118 Red areas were identified in the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM); 93 in Northern Mindanao (Region 10); 73 in Caraga (Region 13); 72 in Zamboanga Peninsula (Region 9); and 49 each in Davao Region (11) and Soccsksargen (Region 12).
“There will be a realignment of our deployment with regards to this development,” Albayalde said.
“I’ll be traveling, together with some officers, to check personally the deployment of our personnel in these areas, especially those areas that are of grave concern or under color Red,” he added.
Meanwhile, no Red area has been identified in the National Capital Region (NCR) and Ilocos Region.
The PNP had earlier said that it will deploy 181,775 police personnel for public safety and general law enforcement duties on Election Day.
Of the number, 99,976 will be assigned in polling centers; 54,532 will be assigned to Quick Reaction Teams (QRTs); 18,177 will compose the Reactionary Standby Support Force (RSSF); and 9,089 will make up the Red Team and Headquarters Skeletal Forces.