GENERAL SANTOS CITY (MindaNews/14 January) — The Commission on Elections in Region 12 has not yet identified any hotspot or election watchlist area in the region in connection with the May 9 general elections.
Michael Abas, Comelec Region 12 director, said Thursday the assessment of the potential election hotspots in the region was still ongoing in coordination with local units of the Philippine National Police and the Armed Forces of the Philippines.
He said they are evaluating areas that were listed as hotspots in the previous elections.
“They (PNP, AFP) are currently doing some validation of these areas. Considering its confidential nature, we deemed it necessary not to publish them yet,” he said.
On Wednesday, Comelec-12 gathered officials of police and military units in the region for a coordinating conference on security in line with the upcoming coming polls.
Senior Supt. Antonio Taylan Jr., Region 12 police’s deputy director for administration, said their discussions focused on the region’s security situation and the assessment of the potential election watchlist areas.
He said they were directed by Comelec-12 to re-evaluate the watchlist areas in the region in the last three elections.
“We’re currently determining whether we should remove or include them again in our list,” Taylan said.
In the 2013 local and national mid-term elections, Comelec-12 identified the municipalities of Tampakan, T’boli and Lake Sebu in South Cotabato, and Lambayong, Kalamansig, Columbio and Palimbang in Sultan Kudarat as election watchlist areas.
According to the PNP, the watchlist areas are determined based on their history of intense partisan political rivalry, past incidents that are considered politically-motivated and election-related, presence of threat groups, and the proliferation of firearms.
For the classification, a certain area is under Category 1 if the incidents there are purely political while towns and cities where there are threat groups fall under Category 2.
An area will be declared under Category 3 or hotspot if it meets the parameters under Category 1 and 2.
As in the previous years, Abas said they expect a safe and fair election in the region on May 9.
“Region 12 had been known to be violence-free during elections and we’re working to maintain that,” he added. (MindaNews)