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Mindanao, Abra are poll hotspots – Comelec

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The Commission on Elections (Comelec) on Tuesday declared the entire Mindanao and three other areas as election hotspots.

In a statement, the poll body said the whole province of Abra, as well as the towns of Jones in Isabela and Lope de Vega in Northern Samar were classified as areas of grave concern (Category Red).

Areas under this category may warrant the motu proprio (on its own) declaration of Comelec control.

“Comelec en banc may direct the augmentation of personnel of the Philippine National Police (PNP) and Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) as the need arises,” the Comelec statement said.

The decision to declare the four areas as election hotspots was based on the suspected poll-related violence in two previous electoral exercises, as well other threats from insurgent groups.

“This developed in the wake of suspected election-related incidents in the last two elections, together with serious armed threats posed by the New People’s Army (NPA), Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF), Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG) and rogue elements of the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) and/or Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) and other analogous groups,” the Comelec said.

The Comelec, PNP and AFP are in charge of identifying election hotspots using the following system of classification: Category Green, Category Yellow, Category Orange and Category Red.

Category Green, refers to areas of no security concern and are relatively peaceful and orderly while Category Yellow, refers to areas with a history of election related violence or the existence of intense partisan political rivalry, but without the participation of domestic terror groups.

Category Orange, referring to areas where, in addition to conditions
that would qualify an area as Category Yellow, there are likewise serious armed threats posed by domestic terror groups and other analogous armed groups while Category Red, referring to areas where, while being under Category Orange, the relevant government agencies declare the existence of conditions which may constitute grounds for the declaration of Comelec control.

Incidentally, the entire Mindanao is under martial law until December 31, 2019. (PNA)