THE PHILIPPINE National Police is continuously validating election “hot spots” and may recommend to the Commission on Elections which of these areas of concern should be placed under Comelec control during the 2019 mid-term polls.
“On our security preparation, we are continuously validating our election watchlist of areas as basis for our operational actions and deployment of forces. As the primary law enforcement arm of the Comelec, we may recommend certain areas to be placed under Comelec control as warranted by the situation in these areas,” PNP chief Director General Oscar D. Albayalde said yesterday.
Albayalde noted that as of yesterday, they are looking into 896 municipalities with known election-related violent incidents in the past, many of them located at the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao.
He said the number may possibly go down as they continue to validate the threats in those areas and get a final list of the 2019 candidates from the Comelec.
Intense rivalry among the opposing parties or candidates is the key factor that could motivate people to engage in violent acts, Albayalde explained.
The occurrence of violence may be facilitated by the employment of Partisan Armed Groups by some politicians and abetted by easy access to loose firearms, he added.
Albayalde said they are still investigating the killing of Allan Joson, a 42-year-old Sangguniang Bayan candidate in San Antonio, Nueva Ecija, last Friday afternoon in what authorities said could be the first election-related incident ahead of the 2019 mid-term polls.
“That case is still being investigated although Nueva Ecija is a perennial election hot spot,” he said.
Albayalde admitted there is an indication of intense political rivalry but not necessarily leading to violence in next year’s election.
“Usually, it involves supporters of rival politicians plus request from candidates to replace the chiefs of police in their areas whom they believe are supporting their rivals,” he said.
The PNP chief said dozens of chiefs of police and even provincial directors have been replaced ahead of the 2019 election in many parts of Calabarzon, Central Luzon, Western Visayas and Mindanao regions.