Comelec: Over 200 barangays placed under ‘red category’ areas for BSKE

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, October 4) — The Commission on Elections (Comelec) has so far placed 242 barangays under the highest category for “areas of concern” ahead of the barangay and Sangguniang Kabataan elections (BSKE).

It means there are threats — such as cases of suspected election-related violence, existence of intense political rivalry, and possible employment of partisan armed groups — that may warrant placing them under Comelec control,

Commissioner Aimee Ferolino on Wednesday said that of the 242 barangays under the “red category,” 147 are in the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM).

“When an area is declared under the ‘red category,’ that could be the basis for placing an area under Comelec control if the situation further intensifies," she said in a media briefing.

“Parang nasa watchlist lang natin sila. Babantayan natin nang maige [It’s like they’re in our watchlist. We will monitor them closely],” Ferolino added.

Ferolino said the tally may still rise, as political rivalry historically intensifies as elections draw nearer.

Aside from BARMM, the next two other regions with the highest number of barangays placed under the red category are Eastern Visayas with 60, and Bicol region with 21.

In Lanao del Sur, 21 out of the 37 barangays in Malabang town were included in the list. This came after the indiscriminate firing incident in the municipality during the filing of certificates of candidacy. 

The Comelec, police and the military classify election areas of concern in four categories: green, yellow, orange and red, depending on the gravity of security concerns.

The commission said over 1,200 barangays are under the orange category, while more than 1,000 were classified as yellow areas. Nearly 40,000 are under the green category, which means they are generally peaceful.

No barangay in Socorro town in Surigao del Sur was in the list of areas under red category, although one was listed as yellow. Socorro recently made headlines due to alleged criminal activities of a group operating there, suspected to be a religious cult.

Comelec Commissioner George Garcia earlier said the poll body has to be careful in tagging a locality as an election area of concern as this will result in mobility restrictions, affecting residents and businesses alike.

Only Negros Oriental is currently under Comelec control following the assassination of Governor Roel Degamo in March and other reported incidents of violence there.