An official of the Police Regional Office-Cordillera (PROCor) on Tuesday said they are keeping a close watch on the provinces of Abra, Kalinga, and Apayao ahead of the May elections as these areas have a history of political violence.
Police Col. Elmer Ragay, PROCor chief regional staff, in a phone interview on Tuesday clarified that while no area in the region has been declared election concern, there are seven towns out of the 77 municipalities and cities in the Cordillera Administrative Region that have been classified under the red category by the Joint Regional Security Control Center Command (JRSCCC) due to intense political rivalries.
They are the towns of Tinglayan, Rizal, Balbalan, Lubuagan, Pasil, Pinukpuk, and the capital Tabuk City in Kalinga province.
Ragay said the identified areas have been placed under the red category due to their historical experience and intense political rivalry, and as provided for on the list of the Directorate for Intelligence of the Philippine National Police (PNP).
Abra’s capital town Bangued and the municipality of Lagayan are under the yellow category.
The PROCor said it is also eyeing the towns of Conner and Kabugao in Apayao and the towns of Natonin and Paracelis in Mountain Province for the possible creation of a Regional Special Operations Task Group that will manage the possible intense political rivalries.
An area shall be placed under the red category immediately if there is an existence of one or more factors listed in the yellow category like the presence of election-related incident, domestic terror groups, intense partisan political rivalry, possible employment of armed partisan groups by a candidate combined with a serious armed threat from the New People Army, Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters, Moro National Liberation Front and Moro Islamic Liberation Front.
A PROCor report showed that from January 9 to March 27, no election-related incident had been recorded in the region including incidents involving elected government officials which is a reason no election-controlled area had been declared.
Ragay, however, said “the provincial directors have been ordered to look closely and conduct an extensive monitoring of their areas,” he said.
The report recommended the continued conflict mediation and diffusion strategies and to engage political candidates in talks to be able to immediately control the possible brewing of problems that will lead to the declaration of Comelec control.
Source: Philippines News Agency