WV police tag 44 towns, cities as ‘poll hotspots’

DG file photo

By Jennifer Rendon

Forty-four towns and cities in Western Visayas were considered as election areas of concerns or “hotspots.”

The Police Regional Office (PRO)-6 released the list following its approval in the Regional Joint Security Coordinating Center (RJSCC) meeting on Feb. 25, 2022.

The RJSCC is chaired by the Commission on Elections (COMELEC) with the Philippine National Police, Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) and the Philippine Coast Guard as members.

The number of these so-called election hotspots is about a third of Western Visayas’ 16 cities and 117 municipalities.

Lieutenant Colonel Arnel Solis, PRO-6 spokesperson, said election hotspots are color-coded based on COMELEC Resolution No. 10757 (In The Matter of Placing Some Areas in the Country Under COMELEC Control; and Establishment of COMELEC Command Center for Purposes of the May 09, 2022 National and Local Elections).

“Green” areas are those with no security concerns or are relatively peaceful and orderly.

The “Yellow” category refers to areas of concern while “Orange” are areas of immediate concern.

“Red” is the designation of areas of grave concern.

The RJSCC list of 44 election hotspots included:

-Yellow – 4

-Orange – 35

-Red – 5

Under the Category Red are Calinog town in Iloilo; and Candoni, Moises Padilla, Escalate City, and Calatrava in Negros Occidental.

In the Orange category are the towns of Bingawan, Lambunao, Maasin, Janiuay, Alimodian, San Joaquin, Tubungan, Miag-ao, Igbaras, Leon, Lemery, San Dionisio, and Sara in Iloilo province; Maayon, Dumalag, and Tapaz in Capiz; Manapla, Silay City, Victorias City, Toboso, Binalbagan, Himamaylan City, Kabankalan City, Hinoba-an, Sipalay City, Isabela, La Castellana, Ilog, and Cauayan in Negros Occidental; Libacao in Aklan; and Hamtic, Sibalom. San Remigio, Culasi, and Sebaste in Antique.

Category Yellow included Don Salvador Benedicto and Bacolod City in Negros Occidental; Laua-an in Antique; and Pilar in Capiz.

Based on COMELEC Resolution No. 10757, an area shall be placed under Category Yellow upon the existence of any of the following factors:

  1. occurrence of suspected election-related incident (ERI) in the last two elections provided there was no participation of domestic terror groups;
  2. existence of intention partisan political rivalry with no participation of domestic terror groups;
  3. possible employment of partisan armed groups by candidates in the area;
  4. occurrence of political-motivated ERI in the current election period, provided there is no participation of domestic terror groups; or
  5. the area has been previously declared under COMELEC control.

An area shall be placed under Category “Orange” upon the existence of the following factors:

  1. combination of two or more factors under Category Yellow; or
  2. there is serious armed threats posed by the Communist Terrorist Group (CTG), and/or other threat groups like the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF), the Maute Group, and Abu Sayyaf Group, and other analogous threats groups as may be declared by competent authority.

An area shall be placed under Category “Red” upon:

  1. the existence of one or more factors described under Category Yellow, together with serious armed threats posed by CTG and or other threat groups; or
  2. declaration by other government agencies concerned that either one of the grounds in Section 3.

These grounds include

* history of/or current intense rivalry among the contending parties. Such rivalries could motivate people to engage in violent acts;

* The areas has been previously declared under COMELEC control;

* Incidence of politically-motivated valance involving aspirants/candidates and/or their supporters;

* Violence may be facilitated by the employment of PAGs:

* Serious armed threats by the CTF an other threat groups.

As stated in the same resolution, the Comelec En Banc, among others, may direct the augmentation of PNP and AFP personnel, as the need arises in hotspot areas. It could also reshuffle police force in such areas.

The Category Red classification may also warrant the motu proprio declaration of COMELEC control.