MANILA, Philippines – The Philippine National Police (PNP) and the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) on Thursday identified 14 provinces as election hotspots.
From the previous identified 9 hotspots, the PNP and the AFP added 5 more areas as they continue to validate local political situation in several provinces, four months ahead of the May 2010 elections.
The PNP and AFP saidy they will monitor 558 cities and municipalities under the 14 named hotspot provinces for the possible widespread occurence of election-related violence.
Provinces tagged sa election hotpots were Samar, Lanao del Sur, Lanao del Norte, Maguidanao, Basilan, Sulu, Nueva Ecija, Abra, Surigao, Zamboanga Sibugay, Sarangani, Eastern Samar, Western Samar, and Antique.
Authorities said the provinces were tagged as election hotspots mainly because of the presence of private armed groups identified with local politicians.
PNP chief Director General Jesus Verzosa said additional police and military troops will be deployed to maintain security in the mentioned areas.
Meanwhile, Verzosa said the PNP is planning to limit the number of security detail to candidates, citing the need for more men in the field to avert untoward incidents during election period.
The maximum number of security agents allowed for presidential candidates is 20 with 10 coming from the PNP/AFP and another 10 from security agencies.
Vice presidential and senatorial candidates, meanwhile, are allowed to have 12 security escorts, including 6 military and police personnel and another from security agencies.