The Philippine National Police yesterday included 126 of the 600 barangays in Negros Occidental in its Elections Watchlist, in relations to the 2013 polls.
Two barangays in Bacolod City were also classified as election hotspots, police records show.
Senior Supt. Manuel Felix, deputy regional director for Administration, yesterday reported an increase of election hotspots in Western Visayas by 49, compared to previous elections, because of the new criteria set by Camp Crame.
PRO6 listed 315 probable election hotspots in Western Visayas with Negros Occidental with 126 topping the list, Capiz with 77, Iloilo - 75, Antique - 17, Aklan and Iloilo City with nine each, Bacolod City - 2 and none in Guimaras.
Of the 315 barangays included in the PNP election watchlist, 89 are classified as election areas of concern, while 228 are listed as election areas of immediate concern.
Felix, however, said the number of election watchlist areas (EWAS) may either increase or decrease, depending on the situation. At the same time, he assured the people of Western Visayas that they taking precautionary security measures to address the EWAS issue.
He said EWAs is important in mapping out security measures and other pro-active operations to attain a secure and fair election.
Felix also said that they are closely monitoring five inactive private armed groups in Western Visayas.
Although they are inactive, Felix said they could not be deleted from the watchlist of the PNP, as they could be resurrected by unscrupulous politicians during the election period.
Private armed groups can only be stricken out of the list if their leaders and majority of their members are neutralized, that is, either arrested or killed in an encounter, he added.
The PRO6 is also intensifying its campaign against loose firearms and those with expired licenses, as part of their safety and security preparations for the Yuletide season and the 2013 midterm national elections.
Task Force Armas was recently organized by the PNP to account for more than 33,000 guns with expired licenses, aside from loose firearms, in the Western Visayas.*GPB