PNP places 18 areas on election watchlist

MANILA, Philippines – The Philippine National Police (PNP) on Saturday, December 29, listed 18 towns and cities as “areas of grave concern” in the 2019 midterm elections.

The PNP said towns and cities included in its list of hotspots fall under the “Category 3” classification. 

Category 3 areas have had incidents of election-related violence involving officials vying for elected posts. The PNP considered incidents which took place as far back as the filing of certificates of candidacy in October. 

The PNP classifies areas which have had violent incidents under 3 categories. 

Category 1 are places which have had incidences due to intense political rivalries.

Falling under Category 2 are areas which the PNP says have "serious armed threats” by “organized threat groups.” Examples of threat groups are the New People’s Army, the Bangsamoro Independent Freedom Fighters (BIFF), and Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG), among others.

Areas named in the PNP watchlist released Saturday may also have Category 1 and Category 2 factors. 

The PNP's "areas of grave concern" are the following:

Ilocos Region

La Union

Cagayan Valley





Oriental Mindoro

Bicol Region


Zamboanga Peninsula

Zamboanga del Sur
Pagadian City

Northern Mindanao

Misamis Oriental
Cagayan de Oro City

Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao

Hadji Mohammad Ajul

Lanao del Sur
Marawi City
Sultan Dumalondong

Shariff Aguak
Shariff Saydona Mustapha
Datu Unsay

The PNP added that areas in Category 3 may also be placed under Commission on Elections (Comelec) control, meaning the poll body will have direct supervision and control over local officials there.


Aside from this, the Comelec will also exercise "full control" over all national and local law enforcement agencies, as well as military officers assigned in the area. 

The Comelec earlier said it was considering placing Daraga, Albay, under Comelec control after AKO Bicol Representative Rodel Batocabe was killed and two bodies were found lifeless in the same town the day after.

Batocabe's family believes local politics may have been the motive behind the slay. Batocabe was running for mayor of Daraga.

Sofia Tomacruz

Sofia Tomacruz covers foreign affairs and is the lead reporter on the coronavirus pandemic. She also writes stories on the treatment of women and children. Follow her on Twitter via @sofiatomacruz. Email her at