THE Philippine National Police tagged three more provinces as “election hot spots” on Friday, bringing to nine the number of provinces where the authorities expect possible trouble related to the upcoming elections on May 9.
PNP chief Director General Ricardo Marquez said the provinces of Abra, Nueva Ecija and Lanao del Norte have been added to the list that already includes Pangasinan, Masbate, Negros Oriental, Western Samar, Maguindanao and Lanao del Sur.
Marquez said the decision to include three more provinces as election hotspots was meant to ensure that no election violence will erupt in the aforementioned areas.
“Although there have not been significant incidents, it is a matter of focus and proactive measures. We included the three so that we could deploy additional forces there, to install more senior commanders who could manage our operations,” said Marquez.
So far, five people, including three mayoral candidates, have already been killed in separate election-related incidents and the authorities are still trying to verify if the seven persons injured in 34 other incidents are election-related.
Marquez also revealed that seven more private armed groups have been added to the list which already includes 78 PAGs.
“We are now monitoring 85,” Marquez said, declining to specify where the private armies are located except to say they were in Luzon.
Last month, Marquez ordered the deployment of an additional company of Special Action Force commandos to Masbate in the wake of killings allegedly perpetrated by New People’s Army rebels and criminal elements.
Marquez also said that they had requested additional budget in the performance of its election duty to the Commission on Elections. The poll body has so far disbursed P462 million out of the P800 million requested by the PNP.