BY GILBERT P. BAYORAN
The 19 areas of concern in Negros Occidental have been assured of intensive security during the May 9 elections, disclosed Brig. Gen. Inocencio Pasaporte, commander of the Army’s 303rd Infantry Brigade.
Pasaporte said in a statement he issued that the 303rd Infantry Brigade in Negros is committed to ensure a safe, accurate, fair election on Monday, despite the extraordinary situation faced by Negrosanons brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic.
We will remain non-partisan and perform our election duties to ensure the successful conduct of election, he said.
Our troop deployment in Negros Occidental, in tandem with the PNP, will provide intensive security measures in areas that need extra security, particularly those identified as areas of concern, Pasaporte added.
Nineteen of the 32 cities and municipalities in Negros Occidental have been tagged as potential election hotspots due to intense political rivalries, history of election related violence, existence of private armed groups and New People’s Army rebels.
In the past several weeks, sporadic gunbattles ensued between government forces and NPA rebels in central and southern Negros.
The Provincial Joint Security Control Center (PJSCC) in Negros Oriental has recommended at least nine election areas of concern in the province to be placed under the “red” category – the highest classification under the color-coded system adopted for the May 9 polls.
In Negros Occidental, five of the 19 towns and cities tagged as election areas of concern are under the “red” category.
PCol. Leo Pamittan, provincial police director of Negros Occidental, also reminded NOCPPO assigned policemen dispatched to augment personnel of various police stations in the province for election duties to be vigilant in performing their mission.
A total of 230 police officers assigned at NOCPPO who were distributed to the different police stations in Negros Occidental were given booklets that will serve as guides, containing basic instructions, duties and responsibilities and emergency hotline numbers for any election eventuality.
NOCPPO also established its Provincial Election Monitoring Action Center (PEMAC) to assist in the conduct of the elections due to its various sources of information, and the reports are to be directly addressed to concerned deputized agencies for proper response.*