EWAs top concern for PNP as campaign for senatorial, party-list polls start today

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The Philippine National Police (PNP) is all set to take its election duties, including law enforcement and security operations, as the official campaign period starts today, Tuesday, for those running for senatorial and party-list positions.

“Well, we are very much ready for our security preparations, and our coordination with the Commission on Elections [Comelec] and with the Armed Forces of the Philippines [AFP] is continuing,” PNP chief Director General Oscar D. Albayalde said on Monday.

“With regards to preparations, I think we are prepared, even with the deployment of our troops, we are just clearing their names. But with regards to preparations, of course, we are very much prepared,” he added.

Albayalde admitted that one of their concerns for the upcoming elections was the existence of hot spot areas or “election watch list of areas” or EWAs, and which they are dealing  jointly  with the poll body and the military.

Based on its earlier record, the PNP has categorized 19 areas as EWAs, or those areas characterized by a track record of political violence and presence or existence of heated political rivalry, insurgents and other threat groups.

The provinces were these EWAs exists are in La Union, Isabela, Batangas, Oriental Mindoro, Masbate, Albay, Zamboanga del Sur, Misamis Oriental, Basilan, Lanao del Sur and Maguindanao.

Specifically, these hot spot areas are Sudipen and Balaoan in La Union; Jones in Isabela; Lemery in Batangas; Roxas in Oriental Mindoro; Balud and Dimasalang in Masbate; Daraga in Albay; Pagadian City in Zamboanga del Sur, Cagayan de Oro City; Hadji Mohammad Ajul, Lantawan, Tipo-Tipo in Basilan; Marawi City in Lanao del Sur; and Sultan Dumalundong, Mamasapano, Shariff Aguak, Shariff Saydona Mustapha and Datu Unsay in Maguindanao.

However, Albayalde said that the list has increased although he did not identify the area as this is still undergoing thorough validation.

“Actually, there is an addition to the list. We are validating a new one based on the parameters that were given to us by the Comelec,” he said.

The PNP chief was hopeful that the condition of peace and order and even security during the ratification of the Bangsamoro Organic Law in Mindanao will prevail in the upcoming elections.

The government has declared that the conduct of the plebiscite for the BOL was generally peaceful and orderly.

At the same time, Albayalde reiterated his order to policemen to remain apolitical in the elections.