The deployment of additional police personnel and combat operations by the Philippine Army may have restricted the movement of armed New People’s Army rebels in the hinterland areas of towns in Negros Occidental considered possible areas of concerns during the May 13 elections, Police Colonel Romeo Baleros, provincial police officer-in-charge, said yesterday.
The Negros Occidental Police Provincial Office had earlier released a report citing EB Magalona, Moises Padilla, Toboso, Isabela and Salvador Benedicto as probable hotspot areas, because of election-related incidents, existence of private armed goons, presence of armed New People’s Army men and intense political rivalries, in previous elections.
But the validation is still ongoing, provincial Comelec supervisor Milagros Salud Villanueva said, as she stressed that there is no official list yet from the Provincial Joint Security Coordinating Center (PJSCC) of areas in Negros Occidental, that may be categorized as election “hotspots”.
Since the deployment of more police personnel in those towns, coupled with ongoing combat operations of the Philippine Army, Baleros said they have not monitored the presence of armed men. He added that he is hopeful it will remain as such.
The campaign period for local candidates starts on March 30.
The Comelec is now using a color-coding system in declaring areas of concern. Those tagged as yellow have a history of violent incidents in previous elections; orange, with armed and rebel groups, and those with both are red or “critical areas, while category green means it does not have security concerns, and is relatively peaceful and orderly.*
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