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2 Davao provinces, other areas in election watchlist due to NPA, armed groups

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LAW ENFORCEMENT agencies have placed the entire provinces of Compostela Valley and Davao del Sur in the election watch list because of the presence of private armed groups and New People’s Army (NPA) rebels. In a press briefing on Wednesday, Police Regional Office Spokesperson Jason L. Baria said they, along with the military, are still evaluating whether to declare some of these areas as election “hotspots,” where tighter security measures will be implemented. Also, under close monitoring in the Davao region are all towns, except for Sto. Tomas, and the two cities of Davao del Norte, and seven of the nine political districts of Davao City. Mr. Baria noted that the NPA, the armed unit of the Communist Party of the Philippines, is known to take advantage of election periods by undertaking the so-called permit-to-campaign scheme wherein they forcibly collect fees from candidates. — Carmelito Q. Francisco