THREE more provinces have been added to the list of Election Watch List of Areas (EWAs) for the synchronized national and local elections on May 9 owing to intense political rivalries.
PNP chief, Director Gen. Ricardo Marquez in a news conference in Camp Crame on Friday named the three provinces as Abra, Nueva Ecija and Lanao Del Norte.
“Although there has not been significant incidents, like I said, it is matter of focused proactive measures. We included the three provinces so that we could deploy additional forces there, to install more senior commanders who could manage our operations,” Marquez said.
These provinces will be included with six other provinces that were earlier tagged by the PNP as EWAs – Masbate, Pangasinan, Negros Oriental, Western Samar, Lanao del Sur and Maguindanao.
Marquez said Abra and Nueva Ecija were put under EWAs following cases of killings involving politicians and intense partisan rivalries.
He explained that particular provinces are being included in EWAs if intense political rivalry is observed, including the presence of private armed groups (PAGs), politically-motivated incidents, election-related incidents, presence of threat groups, presence of criminal gangs and proliferation of loose firearms.
The EWAs are categorized into three. Category I include towns and cities where politically-motivated violent incidents are likely to occur because of intense partisan political rivalries, presence of PAGs, criminal gangs and loose firearms.
Under Category II are areas with serious armed threats posed by organized threat groups; while Category III are towns and cities where the factors described under the first two categories are both present.
Police are monitoring at least 76 private armed groups (PAGs), 69 of which were reportedly based in Mindanao.
Meanwhile, Marquez added they have already received the P462 million out of the P708 million additional budget earlier requested from the Commission on Elections (Comelec) for PNP election expenses.
Marquez said that a huge part of the budget will serve as allowance to policemen who will perform election duty on May 9.
He said that the PNP National Headquarters will start distributing on Monday the allowance of police personnel in all police stations nationwide.