Commentary: Election areas of concern subject to validation
Tacloban City (April 21) -- Although nine provinces of the country have been declared as Election Areas of Concern, the initial assessment of the prevailing situation in these areas is still subject to validation.
The Areas of Concern which include the provinces of Cagayan, Isabela, Abra, Nueva Ecija, Masbate, Samar, Lanao del Sur, Sulu and Basilan, have been categorized by the Philippine National Police to serve as basis in operational planning of deployment of security forces, structuring of the local PNP units and allocation of resources.
The Areas of Concern were divided into two major groups, the first one being composed of areas with history of Election-Related Violent Incidents (ERVI), existence of intense political rivalry between contending parties and possible employment of partisan armed groups of candidates in the area.
The second group is composed of areas where there are serious threats by the CPP/NPA, MILF and MNLF, and other similar armed organizations.
The presence of communist New Peopleís Army (NPA) rebels and other armed groups, existence of partisan armed groups, intense political rivalry and history of political violence are security concerns that the PNP will address to ensure honest, orderly and peaceful elections.
The PNP is closely evaluating the security situation in the nine provinces identified as Election Areas of Concern. In the process of evaluation, the PNP will determine the need, and will exercise its authority of recommending to place an entire province, city or municipality under the control of the Commission on Elections in order to ensure that all election security measures will be efficiently implemented with the total cooperation of the concerned local government units.
Of the nine provinces listed as Election Areas of Concern, only the province of Abra has already been placed under Comelec control ever since the start of the 150-day election period.
The PNP is also closely watching and monitoring other areas that need to be placed under Comelec control and where AFP units can be called upon to help. (PIA 8) [top]