SECURITY MEETING. The joint security meeting of the police and military in Eastern Visayas for the 2019 elections held at the police regional office in Palo, Leyte on Tuesday (October 23, 2018). (Photo by Roel Amazona)

PALO, Leyte — The Philippine National Police (PNP) and the Philippine Army here in Eastern Visayas have started crafting security plans for next year’s mid-term elections.

Region 8 (Eastern Visayas) director Chief Supt. Dionardo Carlos and Army’s 8th Infantry Division commander Maj. Gen. Raul Farnacio formally met on Tuesday to discuss security measures for the 2019 polls.

The two officials said they will immediately recall detailed unformed personnel assigned to politicians running in the May 2019 election once the election period


The Commission on Elections (Comelec) had set Jan. 13, 2019 to June 12, 2019 as election period and gun ban.

Those who are facing security threats will be validated before they can be granted with police or military escorts.

“Depending on the result of validation, that is the only time we will assign security escorts to them. They are only entitled to have two police security escorts,” Carlos said.

Carlos added that those who have threats are strongly advised to hire guards from private security agencies.

Carlos added that policemen who have relatives as candidates will be re-assigned to other units for six months. They will return to their previous units after the election period.

Key police and army officials still need to finalize the list of areas in the region that will be put under election hot spots for the 2019 polls.

Towns in Samar province had been consistently listed as election hotspot and included on the election watchlist due to intense political rivalries and use of private armed groups (PAGs), while other areas are affected by insurgency issues.

“I know some of them are identified with political dynasties,” Farnacio said referring to PAGs and rebel groups supporting candidates.

“I hope that we can formulate here what to do, so we can address this issue and make the coming elections safe and peaceful,” Farnacio added.

The army official added that some politicians supporting communist rebels have filed their certificates of candidacy last week.

In the 2016 national and local elections, a total of 44 towns in the region were included on the election watchlist due to intense political rivalries, threats of armed rebels, and violence committed by criminal groups.

On the list were several towns in Samar, Leyte, Northern Samar, Eastern Samar, and in Biliran.

In the recent 2018 village polls, 284 villages in the region were identified as election hot spots. (PNA)