CAGAYAN DE ORO CITY – At least 295 barangays in Northern Mindanao that have intense political rivalries and private armies were placed under government's watch list for the upcoming barangay and Sangguniang Kabataan (SK) elections, the Commission on Elections (Comelec) said Friday.
The villages were identified as areas of concern after the Philippine National Police (PNP) and Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) conducted intelligence assessment in these areas, the poll body said.
Comelec Resolution No. 10077 described areas of concern as having a history of intense rivalry among contending parties, violence facilitated by private armed groups, and proliferation of loose firearms from unqualified individuals.
Ten villages in the region have intense political rivalries (category 1), 210 have intense political rivalries and the presence of armed groups (category 2), and 75 barangays have intense political rivalries, the presence of armed groups, and proliferation of loose firearms (category 3), the Comelec said.
Authorities said more uniformed personnel would be deployed to these villages during the elections.
“We will strengthen our security plans for these areas. Even during the transport of election paraphernalia from the hub going to the polling centers, stricter security measures should be imposed. We will also conduct regular Comelec checkpoints,” said PNP- Northern Mindanao spokesperson Supt. Lemuel Gonda.
The Comelec office in Northern Mindanao passed a resolution to have at least 2 policemen stationed in every polling center, Regional Director Renato Magbutay said.
"Being identified as areas of concern does not necessarily mean peace and order are already compromised. We are just anticipating the worst case scenario," he said.