DAVAO CITY, Philippines – Police here said that there are no identified election hotspots in Davao region as the whole country gears up to the upcoming senatorial and local elections this year.
Police Regional Office (PRO) Davao Region spokesperson Police Chief Inspector (PCI) Jason Baria said the authorities are now updating and validating the previous list of Election Watch list Areas or EWAS that has been identified in the 2018 Barangay and Sangguniang Kabataan (SK) Elections.
“Under the previous list, there are around 2,025 villages in our EWAS list as of 2018 Barangay and Sangguniang Kabataan (SK) Elections. There will be changes if the validation is complete but as of now it’s still the same,” said Baria.
Under Election Watch list Areas or EWAS, areas in Davao region are still identified under three categories to specify the level of concerns. 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.
Category 1, 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, 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, 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 acts, Violence 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 Sayyaf 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.
Davao del Sur has five barangays under Category 1 and 39 barangay under Category 2 while Davao del Occidental has four barangay under Category 1 and 3 under Category 2, according to the authorities.
The provinces of Compostela Valley has 68 barangays, Davao del Norte has 50 barangays and Davao Oriental has 27 barangays all under Category 2.
Capt. Jerry S. Lamosao, chief Public Affairs Office (PAO) of the 10th Infantry Division said that the EWAS identified areas might lower down because of the dissolved guerilla fronts of the New People’s Army (NPA) in various communities including the number of rebels who returned to the folds of the law.
“These areas are identified as communist controlled barangays that are now free,” said Lamosao.
As of 2018, Lamosao said former communist rebels who had surrendered have reached to 535 while those they identified as “ Milisyang Bayan” are 703. (davaotoday.com)