DAVAO CITY, Philippines — The Philippines National Police in Davao region has recommended 251 villages to be placed under the Election Watchlist Areas or EWAS for the 2018 Barangay and Sangguniang Kabataan (SK) Elections.
Chief Inspector Milgrace Driz, the spokesperson of the Southern Mindanao Police Office, said the list of these identified areas was submitted to the Commission on Elections (COMELEC) and it was awaiting approval.
Inclusion into the list would have the following critical situations: intense political rivalry, the presence of armed groups, activities of criminal gangs, a proliferation of loose firearms, and activities of threat groups.
There are also three categories to specify the level of concern such as:
– Category 1, Placed under this category are barangays/towns/cities where politically motivated violent incidents are likely to occur due to intense partisan political rivalries. The occurrence of violence could be facilitated by the employment of Private Armed Groups(PAGs) and abetted by loose firearms and availability of force multipliers like gun-for-hire gangs and other armed groups;
– Category 2, Placed under this category are barangays/towns/cities where there are serious armed threats posed by organized threat groups namely the CPP/NPA,BIFM/BIFF,ASG and rogue elements of the MNLF and MILF;
– Category 3,Placed under this category are barangays/towns and cities where both factors describe under Category 1 and 2 are present;
– Category 4, The COMELEC may place under its immediate and direct control and supervision, any political division, subdivision, unit or area affected by any of all of the following parameters;
– History of/or current intense rivalry among the contenting parties.Such rivalries could motivate people to engage in violent actsViolence may be facilitated by the employment of PAGs;
– Abetted by loose firearms in the hand of unqualified individuals and ;
– Serious armed threats posed by the NPA, BIFF, Abu Sayaf and rogue elements of the MNLF and MILF, Daesh-inspired groups or other paramilitary forces, private armies or identifiable armed bands widely perceived to have committed terrorism, fraud or other election irregularities and threaten or tend to disrupt the holding of free, peaceful, honest, orderly and credible elections in any political division subdivision, unit or area.
In PNP-XI report the province of Davao del Sur has 5 barangays under category 1 and 39 barangay under category 2, Davao del Occidental has 4 barangay under category 1 and 3 under category 2.
The provinces of Compostela Valley has 68 barangays, Davao del Norte has 50 barangays and Davao Oriental has 27 barangays all under category 2
While in Davao City, Senior Insp. Ma. Teresita Gaspan, the city police spokesperson, said one barangay is under category 1 and there are 54 barangays under category 2.
Deployment of Troops
According to Driz, that the deployment of its personnel will matter on the EWAS identified barangays and the number of polling precincts per schools during the election period. The PNP has a consideration of deploying combatant PNP personnel in their areas of concerns.
Driz said that they have been minimum of seven police personnel per area following the concern of security during the election.
“The teachers have been vocal in their security concerns during the election, that why we are also considering this,” said Driz.
There is also an established plan with the AFP and the Philippine Navy where to deploy their forces during their workshop last week.
The AFP on their side according to Capt. Jerry Lamosao, the spokesperson of the 10th Infantry Division, “the military will focus on deploying troops to hinterland areas where there is NPA presence and with the recent attacks in the region.” (davaotoday.com)