The Philippine Army yesterday categorized the New People’s Army as the number one threat to the May 13 elections in Negros, being a private armed group of Jose Maria Sison, founding chairman of the Communist Party of the Philippines.
“We know that they have political intention in the coming mid-term election,” Col. Benedict Arevalo, 303rd Infantry Brigade commander, who attended the activation yesterday of the Negros Occidental Provincial Joint Security Control Center at the Capitol in Bacolod City, said.
The number one private armed group in Negros, if not the whole Philippines, is the CPP-NPA, Arevalo said.
The Army is bracing for a possible escalation of attacks by communist rebels as the elections near, to project to candidates being targeted for their extortion activities, that they are still a force to reckon with, he added.
On Thursday night, suspected NPA rebels harassed an isolated military outpost in Kabankalan City, that resulted to the slight injury of an Army soldier. The incident was preceded by the liquidation of a government militiaman in Guihulngan City, and the torching of heavy equipment in Ayungon, all in Negros Oriental, with damage placed at P120 million.
In order to prevent the occurrence of more NPA atrocities, Arevalo said they have been intensifying their combat operations in the Negros hinterlands, even during the yuletide season.
That is why there were times that some NPA units left the hinterlands to avoid military operations, and fled towards the lowlands, where they also staged violent activities to divert the attention of authorities, he added.
Acting provincial Comelec supervisor, Salud Milagros Villanueva, who presided over the JPSCC meeting and command conference, yesterday said that security plans are now being formulated to ensure peaceful, orderly and credible mid-term polls.
“We are not taking chances in terms of security and in the maintenance of peace and order”, Villanueva said, in reaction to the statement of Gov. Alfredo Marañon Jr. that elections in Negros Occidental will be peaceful because the two local political parties have merged.
As to the possible election areas of concern, Villanueva said they will be known at the start of the election and campaign periods.
Arevalo urged candidates who may be victimized by the extortion activities of the NPA to coordinate with the Army, or any PNP unit, so that they can take action.
He expects that the NPA will demand permits to campaign fees in areas they claim as their controlled areas.
Arevalo also revealed that they have been receiving reports of some local chief executives extending support to communist rebels.
Whether they deny it or not, there is a report to us, Arevalo said.*
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