Police activates task force for peaceful elections
LEGAZPI CITY – The Philippine National Police (PNP) in Bicol has activated the Regional Special Operation Task Force (RSOTF) to prevent election-related incidents in areas considered hot spots in the May 14 barangay and Sangguniang Kabataan elections.
Chief Supt. Antonio Gardiola, director of the Bicol police, ordered the revival of the RSOTF, following several election-related shooting incidents in the region, with Masbate having reported at least 50 since January, Senior Insp. Maria Luisa Calubaquib, spokesperson of the Bicol police, said.
Areas considered hotspots if there are the following conditions: intense political rivalry, presence of private armed groups, activities of criminal gangs, proliferation of loose firearms, and activities of threat groups such as armed rebel groups.
The task force’s main objective is to monitor and maintain peace and order in areas considered election areas of concern.
Calubaquib clarified that only 666 villages in the region were identified as hotspots in the coming elections.
On Friday, PNP spokesperson Chief Supt. John Bulalacao reported in a press briefing that Bicol had the most number of areas placed under the watch list, with 1,258 barangays.
She said they have submitted to the PNP central office in Camp Crame, the correct figure.
Calubaquib said that with this correction, Bicol would only place second to ARMM, with 832 barangays in the watch list.
She said the corrected figure came from the Commission on Elections. Calubaquib said most of the 666 villages considered hot spots are from Masbate province.
Masbate province has always been tagged by the Comelec and PNP as hot spot during past elections due to intense political rivalries, proliferation of firearms, and presence of political armed groups, including New People’s Army rebels.
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