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Police officers man a checkpoint in view of the May 13, 2019 midterm elections. According to the Philippine National Police, 181 persons who violated the election gun ban since it took effect on Jan. 13 were apprehended in checkpoints. GMA NEWS

ILOILO City – As the May 13 midterm elections draw near, the Armed Forces of the Philippines and Philippine National Police have initially identified three “areas of grave concern” in Iloilo province – the municipalities of Calinog, Lemery and Maasin.

Aside from insurgency problem, there is intense political rivalry in these towns, said Lieutenant Colonel Sisenando Magbalot of the Philippine Army’s 61st Infantry Battalion yesterday.

The military and police have three classifications of election areas of concern – Yellow (Category 1 or areas of concern), Orange (Category 2 or areas of immediate concern) and Red (Category 3 or areas of grave concern).

Calinog, Lemery and Maasin were under the Red category.

Identified under the Orange category were the towns of San Joaquin, Miag-ao, Igbaras, Tubungan, Alimodian, Leon, Janiuay, Lambunao, and Bingawan.

Under the Yellow classification, on the other hand, were New Lucena, San Dionisio, Estancia, and Sara.

Towns or cities shall be placed under the Yellow classification for any of the following:

* history of/or current intense political rivalry (IPR) among contending parties; such rivalries could motivate people to engage in violent acts

* presence of private armed groups (PAGs) (active / potential) that had been and/or can be utilized by candidates and abetted by loose firearms and availability of gun-for-hire gangs

* occurrence of validated election related incidents (ERIs) in the 2016 national and local elections, provided there was no participation of domestic terrors groups

* suspected politically-motivated violent incidents involving elected government officials (EGO) / aspirants / supporters from January 2018 to the present and those who filed their certificates of candidacy until the start of the election period

* occurrence of politically-motivated ERIs in the current election period provided there is no participation of domestic terror groups

* validated reports of candidates involved in illegal drug groups and such support will likely lead to election violence

Under the Orange classification, the following factors exist (combination of two or more factors under the Yellow or Category 1):

* presence and/or serious armed threat posed by the communist terrorist groups (CTGs, such as New People’s Army) and/or local terrorist groups (LTGs)

* reports on the collection of “permit to win” / “permit to campaign” by CTGs and/or extortion by LTGs and/or other analogous groups

* reports on the existence of CTG/LTG-supported candidates.

For the Red classification, factors in the Yellow and Orange categories exist./PN

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