(PNA photo by Lloyd Caliwan)

MANILA – The Philippine National Police (PNP) on Monday recommended that more or less 100 municipalities and 14 cities be placed under the red category for the May 9 elections.

“In the last meeting, the red areas all over the country were 100 municipalities and 14 cities. Ngayon, titingnan namin yung update meron tayong color coded, meron tayong green, wala tayong magiging problema sa green areas. Yung yellow and orange binabantayan natin (Now we will look at the update we have color-coded, we have green, we will not have a problem with green areas. We continue monitoring the yellow and orange) but we focus on the red colored areas ito yung aming huling datos (this is our latest data) is 100 municipalities and 14 cities,” PNP chief Gen. Dionardo Carlos said in a press conference in Camp Crame.

Carlos said he has issued marching orders to each unit commander to focus on the areas that will be placed under the red category to suppress any election-related violence.

“March pa lang pina-activate ko na yung (As early as March, I already ordered to activate the) RSOTGs (Regional Special Operations Task Group (RSOTG) to be headed by a DRDO (Deputy Regional Director for Operations) or a senior officer coming from the regional offices and these RSOTGs are deployed in these red areas to support the preparations being made by the different provinces or city, municipality police units,” said Carlos.

Carlos, however, did not disclose what areas are under the election hotspot list which has four categories -- green, yellow, orange, and red.

Green refers to areas that do not have security concerns and are generally peaceful and orderly, while yellow are areas of concern, which means that these have a history of election-related incidents in the last elections, possible employment of partisan armed groups, the occurrence of politically motivated election-related incidents and had been previously declared under Commission on Elections (Comelec) control.

Orange, meanwhile, means areas of immediate concern where there is a serious armed threat; while Red means areas of grave concern, which exhibit combined factors under the Yellow category with serious armed threats that may warrant the motu proprio (on its own) declaration of Comelec control.

Earlier, the Commission on Elections said there are 300 “areas of concern” or “election hotspots” that they are currently investigating.

“The Comelec announcement in connection to the 300 areas of concern this is including the other yellow, orange areas kaya ganun yung (that's why is) 300. Nonetheless, I defer to the authority and better judgment of Comelec to make public the names of these areas,” he stressed.

2K cops reshuffled

Meanwhile, PNP spokesperson Col. Jean Fajardo said close to 2,000 cops were relieved or reshuffled as their relatives are running in the coming elections.

Fajardo said 1,971 PNP members have relatives seeking various elective posts.

She also said that this is part of their moves to ensure that policemen will be “non-partisan” during the elections.

A total of 147 field commanders were also reshuffled.

Carlos said the PNP will conduct a command conference as part of their preparations for the 2022 elections.

“The PNP is continuously coordinating with the Comelec, Armed Forces of the Philippines, and Philippine Coast Guard to further validate information on some 300 localities recommended to be categorized as Election Areas of Concern. For the deputized agencies PNP, AFP, and PCG, this classification will further guide our respective agencies to make the necessary adjustments on the appropriate deployment of forces and other operational requirements,” Carlos said.

The PNP chief also reminded all candidates that no campaigning is allowed on Holy Thursday and Good Friday, according to the calendar of activities released by the poll body.

He said the PNP will strictly monitor all activities on those days and any observed violation will be documented and duly reported to the poll body.

With the Comelec's completion of the printing of over 67.4 million ballots ahead of its April 25 target, Carlos said the PNP is also making early preparations to provide security for the transport of ballots and other election paraphernalia and equipment to the designated Comelec hubs in the different regions and provinces in coordination with the AFP and PCG.

The official ballots and the election returns shall be distributed by the Comelec to each city and municipality at the rate of one and one-fifth ballots for every voter registered in each polling place and for election returns, at the rate of one set each for every polling place. (PNA)