251 villages in Davao region endorsed as poll watch list areas

By Lilian Mellejor

May 2, 2018, 8:48 pm

DAVAO CITY -- The Police Regional Office (PRO) XI and the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) recommended 251 villages in Davao region to be placed under the election watch list areas (EWAS) in the upcoming Barangay and Sangguniang Kabataan elections on May 14.

The list was already submitted for approval of the Commission on Elections (Comelec), PRO XI spokesperson Chief Insp. Milgrace Driz said during Wednesday’s AFP-PNP press corps briefing at the Royal Mandaya Hotel.

Of the 251 areas, Compostela Valley province and Davao City have the most EWAS with 68 and 55, respectively.

Davao City has one area placed under Category 1 and 54 under Category 2.

Areas placed under Category 1 have records of politically-motivated violent incidents and may likely occur during the elections due to intense partisan political rivalry, while areas under Category 2 have serious armed threats posed by organized threat groups like the Communist Party of the Philippines-New People’s Army (CPP-NPA), the Bangsamoro Independent Freedom Fighters (BIFF), and Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG).

All the 68 areas in Compostela Valley are placed under Category 2. Compostela Valley is known to be a hotbed of the CPP-NPA.

They are followed by Davao del Norte – 50 (Category 2); Davao del Sur with 5 areas under Category 1 and 44 under Category 2; Davao Occidental with 4 under Category 1 and 3 under Category 2; and Davao Oriental with 27 under Category 2.

Driz said the list was consolidated during a meeting of the police and the AFP last week.

The identification of the areas was based on 4 categories. The areas falling under Category 3 are areas where the threats under category 1 and 2 are present, while under the Category 4 the areas affected by political rivalry that could motivate people to engage in violence, violence may be facilitated by employment of private armed groups, loose firearms fall into the hands of unqualified individuals, serious armed threats by the CPP-NPA, BIFF, ASG and other armed groups.

Driz said the areas under Category 4 are placed under the Comelec immediate and direct control and supervision.

Davao City Police Office (DCPO) spokesperson, Senior Insp. Ma Teresita Gaspan, said the areas placed in EWAS will have more police and army personnel deployment depending on each category and the number of polling places.

In the case of Davao City, Gaspan said DCPO and all its units are ready for the elections.

She said the 55 barangays listed as EWAS are under the area of responsibility of seven police stations.

She said the police personnel in DCPO will be distributed among the seven police stations.

10th Infantry Division spokesman Capt. Jerry Lamosao said the army is deploying soldiers especially in areas where there is a presence of the CPP-NPA. Lamosao said the military will focus more in the rural barangays, while the police in the urban areas. (Lilian C. Mellejor/PNA)