Comelec declares Mindanao, 3 areas as election hot spots

MANILA, Philippines (UPDATED) – The Commission on Elections (Comelec) announced on Tuesday, March 19, that it has declared the entire island group of Mindanao and at least 3 other areas as election hot spots.

In a statement, the Comelec said that aside from Mindanao, it has declared the following as election hot spots: Jones, Isabela; Lope de Vega, Northern Samar; and the entire province of Abra.

The poll body classified these areas as Category Red Election Hot Spots, which means it can place these areas under Comelec control. When the Comelec takes control of an area, all national and local officials will fall under the direct control and supervision of the poll body.

The Category Red classification also means the Comelec "may direct the augmentation of personnel of the Philippine National Police and the Armed Forces of the Philippines as the need arises," said the Comelec.

"This developed in the wake of suspected election-related incidents in the last two elections, together with serious armed threats posed by the New People's Army, Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters, Abu Sayyaf Group, and rogue elements of the Moro National Liberation Front and/or Moro Islamic Liberation Front and other analogous groups," said the Comelec.

In a statement, the Philippine National Police (PNP) said it "will abide by the declaration of the Comelec on election hot spots and make the necessary adjustments in our intensified security preparations."

"We shall continue to perform our mandate to enforce the law, and ensure peace and order, in the run-up to the May 13 polls," said the PNP.

The Comelec earlier placed the town of Daraga in Albay and Cotabato City under its control for this election period. 

Mindanao is already under martial law, and the military said it will "take orders from the Comelec." – Rappler.com