By Johanna M Sampan /Manila Times
The Commission on Elections (Comelec) and the Philippine National Police (PNP) have revealed that they are now exercising vigilance over 15 provinces in relation to the upcoming May midterm polls.
Comelec Chairman Sixto Brillantes Jr said the 15 provinces are being continuously assessed by the authorities as election day draws near. “Actually, only 15 are hotspots, which means ‘Areas of Concern.’ Now, as we move on, we may see if their statuses are lowered areas of concern, they may be taken off the list of area of concern or escalate as ‘area of immediate concern,’” Brillantes explained.
The areas identified were the provinces of Abra, Pangasinan, La Union, Ilocos Norte, Cagayan, Nueve Ecija, Pampanga, Cavite, Batangas, Masbate, Western Samar, Misamis Occidental, Maguindanao, Lanao del Sur and Basilan. The poll chief explained that based on the National Police guidelines, there are four degrees of “concerns” during the forthcoming elections.
These are called area of concern, area of immediate concern, area of great concern and those needed to be placed under the poll body’s control.
However, Brillantes was optimistic that no area will be under the commission’s control in the upcoming polls. Comelec Resolution 3618 states that the commission may place an area under its control when intense political rivalry between or among candidates, political factions or parties; or the presence of paramilitary forces, private armies or identifiable armed bands threaten to disrupt the holding of free, peaceful, honest, orderly and credible elections.