LEGAZPI CITY – The Bicol region has 311 election hotspots that are under tight watch by the Philippine Army, the Philippine National Police the Commission on Elections and the respective local government units, according to an army officer in Bicol.
Major Harold Cabunoc, Army’s 9th Infantry Division spokesman, said that Bicol Region has 70 villages placed as Category 1 and 241 villages as Category 2 of the COMELEC’s tally of election watch lists of areas (EWAS) or “hotspots”.
“A Category 1 election ‘hotspot’ refers to areas where there are intense political rivalry and where armed groups supporting various politicians are present. Meanwhile, the presence or influence of the NPA rebel in certain areas makes them (villages) as Category 2 election “hotspots” Cabunoc said.
Masbate tops the list with 69 villages placed under Category 1 and 103 villages as Category 2 ‘hotspots’.
Sorsogon has 61 villages as Category 2 ‘hotspots’ with Gubat town having the most number with 13 followed by Sorsogon City with 10 villages.
The AFP and PNP earned accolades for their successful security operations during the May 2010 elections with the least number of election-related violent incidents (ERVIs) as compared to the 2004 and 2007 elections. The said national election was said to be the most peaceful in Bicol’s election history.
Army soldiers have intensified its area security patrols as part of its tasking by the COMELEC in preparation to the upcoming local elections. Soldiers also support the manning of checkpoints which is primarily tasked to the PNP. (RENasol, PNA Bicol/PIA/mal)