74 areas in Bicol under PNP election watchlist file photo

NAGA CITY (Bicol Standard)-- The Police Regional Office 5 has identified 74 election watchlist areas, or areas where poll-related violence may likely occur in relation to the forthcoming midterm elections.

Senior Inspector Malu Calubaquib, PRO5 Spokesperson, said these areas were grouped into Category I (Areas of Concern), Category II (Areas of Immediate Concern), and Category III (Areas of Grave Concern).

As of January 28, 2019, Albay has 11 areas of concern; Cam Norte has 4; Cam Sur, 17; Catanduanes, 7; Masbate, 21; and Sorsogon, 14.

Areas under Category 1 have a history of current intense political rivalry among the contending parties. They may also have the presence of private armed groups which may be employed by political candidates; the occurence of validated election-related incident (VERI) in the 2016 national and local elections, provided there was no participation of domestic terror groups. The same areas may have suspected politically-motivated violent incidents involving elected government officials, aspirants, or supports from January 2018 to the present; occurence of politically-motivated election-related incidents (ERI) in the current election period, provided there was no participation of domestic terror groups; validated reports of candidates involved in illegal drugs or support by illegal drug groups, which may lead to election violence. Lastly, areas that were declared under COMELEC control in 2016 are also included in this category.

Areas of Immediate Concern include towns and cities with two or more identified factors under Category 1; are in the presence and serious armed threat posed by rebel groups; areas with reported extortion activities by rebels; and reports of the existence of rebel group-supported candidates.

Further, Election Areas of Grave Concern are those towns and cities with a combination of two or more factors under Catgory 1, together with the presence and/or serious armed threat posed by rebels.

The verification and the classification of election watchlist areas is part of PNP’s proactive approach to prevent the occurrence of election related activities in the region, the Bicol police said in a statement.

Thus, linkages and collaboration with other agencies are being made to ensure clean and peaceful elections.