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The Commission on Elections is considering putting some areas in Lanao del Norte and Cavite on the list of areas of immediate concern following separate ambuscades which killed 14 people there. "Tinitingnan natin [if isasama] itong [Bacoor] Cavite [and] [Nunungan] Lanao del Norte [sa areas of immediate concern]," Elections chief Sixto Brillantes Jr. told reporters in an interview on Friday.
"Anytime that there's an incident, tinitingnan namin and then we're coordinating with the police and the military whether to declare it area of concern... grave concern," he added. On Thursday evening, unidentified gunmen attacked the group of Nunungan, Lanao del Norte Mayor Malik Abdul Manamparan, killing 12 people, including the mayor's daughter. Eight others were wounded, including Manamparan.
On the same night, a village chieftain was wounded while her two companions were killed following an attack in Bacoor, Cavite. Authorities are still investigating the motive for the attack.
Just recently, Gingoog City in Misamis Oriental was placed on the list of areas of immediate concern following the ambush on city Mayor Ruth Guingona last April 20.
On Friday, Brillantes said there are about six areas of immediate concern but refused to identify them.
Earlier, the Comelec declared that 15 provinces were being monitored, similar to the list prepared by the Philippine National Police and the Armed Forces. Brillantes said that historically, election-related violence have taken place in the 15 areas.
Prior to the start of the local campaign period, the Comelec decided not to use the term “hotspots” and instead, adopted a four-level classification of localities: area of concern, area of immediate concern, area of grave concern, and area under Comelec-control.
Under Comelec Resolution 9583, the poll body can take direct control and supervision of any political division, subdivision, unit or area affected by "serious armed threats."Poll violence
According to statistics from the National Police, a total of 76 election-related incidents have been recorded since the beginning of the election period last January 13 up to April 22, 2013.
Of this number, 61 were incidents of shooting; 1 grenade throwing; 6 strafing; 3 stabbing; 2 grave threats; 1 hacking; and 1 explosion.
It also said that there have been around 109 victims, including 50 dead killed and 40 wounded.
But Brillantes noted that such figures were lower compared to those during the 2010 polls.
"Compared to 2010 we're about 40 percent less...so maganda ang figures," he said. — Kimberly Jane Tan/RSJ, GMA News