MANILA -- Over 40 percent of the country's towns and cities have been deemed as election "hot spots," the Philippine National Police said Tuesday as the campaign period for the midterm polls kicked off.
The PNP is "seriously considering" adjusting the deployment of its units due to the latest watch list that identified 701 election hot spots, which comprise 42 percent of the country's 1,634 cities and municipalities, said police chief Director General Oscar Albayalde.
Of the total, 223 are "areas of concern" under the yellow category. These areas have an intense political rivalry or a history of election-related incident in the last 2 polls, or were previously placed under the Commission on Elections' control, Albayalde told reporters.
Another 382 "areas of immediate concern" are under the orange category due to "serious armed threat" from communist and Moro rebels, and bandits, he said.
The "red" category, meanwhile, include 94 "areas of grave concern" that exhibit "combined factors" of the first 2 categories, said Albayalde.
ARMM has the biggest share of the red category with 27 areas of grave concern, followed by Bicol with 19, said Albayalde.
Metro Manila and Ilocos regions, on the other hand, do not have any area of concern, he said.
Areas under the red category, he said, may "warrant the motu proprio declaration of Comelec control.
The poll body earlier took control over Cotabato City, where a mall bombing left 2 dead in December, and Daraga town in Albay, where AKO Bicol Party-list Rep. Rodel Batocabe was gunned down the same month.
PNP, a deputized agency of Comelec, is implementing an election gun ban across the country and a policy limiting the employment of bodyguards.
The police force is also mandated to dismantle armed groups, provide security to vulnerable candidates, account for loose firearms and neutralize hired guns, said Albayalde.
"We will ensure to remain apolitical and to protect the will of the electorate by ensuring honest, orderly and peaceful elections in May," he said.