THREE more provinces – Abra, Nueva Ecija and Lanao del Norte – have been included in the list of hotspots for the upcoming May 9 synchronized local and national elections, a ranking police official said Friday.
This brings to nine the number of provinces tagged by the Philippine National Police (PNP) as Election Areas of Watch List of Concern. The six others are Masbate, Pangasinan, Negros Oriental, Western Samar, Lanao del Sur and Maguindanao.
“Although there has not been significant incidents, like I said, it is matter of focused, proactive measures,” Director General Ricardo Marquez, PNP chief, said in a news conference in Camp Crame. He added that more senior commanders and additional forces would be deployed to the three provinces.
He said the PNP, meanwhile, has received P462 million out of the P708 million additional budget that it requested from the Commission on Elections (Comelec), the bulk of which will cover the allowances for the policemen to be given election duties in connection with the May 9 democratic exercise.
The PNP will start distributing the money on Monday to its personnel nationwide.
Marquez said it was in Nueva Ecija where the PNP started late last year their operation dubbed “Oplan Lambat Sibat,” following successive shooting incidents involving a barangay chairman. A series of shooting incidents was also the reason for Abra’s inclusion in the list.
He added that intense political rivalries and the presence of private armed groups (PAGs), however, were the reasons why the list carried the names of the other provinces. ANTHONY VARGAS