• GILBERT P. BAYORAN
The Armed Forces of the Philippines Visayas Command wants an early assessment of threats to politicians, in line with the October 30 synchronized barangay and Sangguniang Kabataan elections, while the Commission on Elections is expected to start assessing possible Election Watchlist Areas (EWAs) in Negros Occidental.
Provincial Comelec supervisor Atty. Ian Lee Ananoria yesterday said that they will start assessment of EWAS, in tandem with the AFP and Philippine National Police, after the filing of Certificate of Candidacy (COC), which is slated from August 28 to September 2.
The AFP Visayas Command earlier tagged 17 areas in Negros Occidental as EWAs due to local insurgent activities.
Ananoria disclosed that the initial identification of possible EWAs is part of the VISCOM’s routine job, based on their parameters, such as insurgency affectation of a barangay.
Lt. Gen. Benedict Arevalo, Viscom chief, said “election is fast approaching, and preparations must be made as early as possible.”
In a statement, Arevalo also emphasized the start of assessing threats relative to the election.
“Let us start assessing our EWAs, the private armed groups, and even the threats to our politicians,” he said, stressing that the threat to politicians continues even after the election.
“So, they should be monitored not only before and during the election, but also even after the election,” Arevalo further said.
As stipulated in COMELEC Resolution No. 10902, the election period will start from August 28 – November 29. The campaign period kicks off October 19-28, and election day is on Oct. 30.
In a report from Area Police Command-Visayas, a total of 158 areas in the entire Visayas region fall under the Election Watchlist Areas (EWAs), of which 37 in Region 6, 63 are in Region 7, and 58 are in Region 8.
Of the 158 EWAs in the Visayas, 40 of which fall under the classification of areas of concern; 92 are classified as areas of immediate concern, while 26 are classified as areas of grave concern.
On the other hand, Ananoria said that the Joint Peace Security Coordinating Center, composed of the AFP and PNP and headed by Comelec, has yet to be activated in Negros Occidental.
Ananoria also said that they are still waiting for its activation in the national level, before it will be cascaded to the regional, provincial, city and municipal level.
After the filing of COC, he said they may determine what areas are hotly contested during the campaign period, in order to have a single list on EWAs in the province.*