LINGAYEN, Pangasinan — Twenty of the 48 towns and cities in Pangasinan have been included under the election watch list areas (EWAs).

Pangasinan Police Provincial Office (PPPO) officer-in-charge Senior Superintendent Edgar Alan Okubo submitted the list to the Sangguniang Panlalawigan (SP) on Monday.

“The list is only internal and has not been submitted to the Comelec since continuous assessment is ongoing,” Okubo said.

The EWAs have not been released to the media but Okubo, during the question hour of the SP session, told local executives that Rosales town is included in the list.

Last week, former Rosales mayor Ricardo Revita, who is seeking to regain his post after serving for three consecutive terms, surrendered to the PPPO 21 high-powered firearms for safekeeping.

During the SP session, Okubo explained to the provincial board the factors why the province was included in the country’s EWAs provinces, along with Masbate, Negros Oriental, Western Samar, Maguindanao, and Lanao del Sur.

He said Pangasinan is under the EWAs Category 1, which is marked by the presence of intense political rivalry and history of election-related violence including political killings, because of previous incidents in the towns of Bayambang, Urbiztondo, San Carlos City, Manaoag, Mapandan, and Infanta.

He also noted the presence of two private armed groups (PAGs), 22 criminal groups and 103 personalities, all of whom pose threats against the conduct of safe and peace elections.

PPPO data show that there are about 994 loose firearms believed to be in the hands of criminals and 12,482 unrenewed firearms.

“Though insurgency-free, there is Communist Party of the Philippines- New People’s Army-National Democratic Front (CPP-NPA-NDF) presence at the southern and eastern parts of the province,” Okubo said.

The PPPO chief disclosed that at least 200 personnel has been requested as augmentation force to secure safe and peace elections, and stressed that the PPPO aims a zero election-related incident in the coming May 9 polls.

At present, the PPPO has 2,699 personnel or a 1:1,330 police to population ratio.

The PPPO head added that they are planning to have peace covenants among political candidates in the province. PNA /