A total of 300 barangays across the region are being considered as possible Election Watchlist Areas (EWAs) of the Commission on Elections (Comelec) during the midterm polls in May.
Francisco Pobe, Comelec director for Caraga, said far-flung villages of Surigao del Sur and Agusan del Sur make up the initial list of EWAs the Philippine National Police has determined months before the elections in May 2019.
“However, this initial list of EWAs is now thoroughly validated by the Joint Security Control Center (JSCC),” Pobe said.
According to Pobe, the barangays being considered for inclusion in the EWA list have presence of communist insurgents.
“Skirmishes between government security forces and communist insurgents sometime happened in these considered EWAs, but our government forces are trying to neutralize these areas before the election day will take place,” he said.
But Pobe clarified that the barangays on the list could still change as the PNP and AFP, continue to monitor the areas prone to election-related crimes, including presence of private armed groups.
“But still, our government security forces, the military and police and other law enforcement agencies are still continously verifying and validating on the ground if there is any private Army or private armed group in Caraga region,” Pobe said.
Military and police officials are again set to submit their report during the Regional Joint Security Control Center (RJSCC) meeting in Butuan City next week. By CLC