The Western Visayas regional police has placed 315 barangays in its “watchlist” for next year’s midterm elections, higher than those listed in the previous polls.

The figure is higher compared to 49 in previous elections, Senior Supt. Manuel Felix, Western Visayas deputy regional police director for administration, said.

Of the current count, 226 are listed as “election areas of immediate concern” and 89 are classified as election areas of concern.

“Lumobo ang bilang ng ating hotspots dahil rin sa criteria na ating sinusundan,” Felix said in a statement.

“Sabihin na natin na nag-over estimate kami but we are guided by criteria in tagging a barangay in our watchlist,” he said.

Negros Occidental has 126 barangays in the watchlist, followed by Capiz which has 77, Iloilo with 75, Antique – 17, Aklan and Iloilo City with nine each, and Bacolod City – two. Guimaras has no reported hotspot.

“Tuloy-tuloy po ang monitoring sa mga lugar na ito at tayo naman ay gumagawa ang kaukulang hakbang para matugunan ang problema o isyu sa mga EWAs,” Felix said.

Meanwhile, Felix announced that intelligence operatives are still monitoring five “inactive” private armed groups in the region.

Even the groups are inactive, they could not just be deleted in the PNP’s watchlist, he said.

“Sinubaybayan ng ating mga intelligence operatives ang mga grupong ito dahil baka gagamitin ulit sila ng iilang politiko sa darating na halalan,” Felix said.

Private armed groups can only be stricken out of the list if their leaders and majority of their members are either arrested or killed, he noted. (John Roson)

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