BY GILBERT P. BAYORAN
The Commission on Elections assured Negrenses that sporadic encounters between Army soldiers and suspected New People’s Army rebels in the hinterlands of Himamaylan City, Negros Occidental, will have no effect in the holding of elections in the placeon May 9.
Provincial Comelec Supervisor Roberto Salazar said he was given assurance by top leaders of the Philippine Army and National Police in Negros Occidental that they are “on top” of the situation in Himamaylan City.
The 94th and 79th Infantry Battalion soldiers figured in four armed skirmishes with NPA rebels reported to have been belonging to Central Negros (Front) 2 in hinterland barangays of Buenavista and Carabalan, all in Himamaylan City, on March 25, 26 and April 1, that claimed the lives of a rebel couple and two brothers.
Salazar maintained that the armed skirmishes in Himamaylan City was triggered by internal security operations of the Philippine Army and deployment of more troops in those areas.
Himamaylan City has been placed under orange category by the Comelec, as per recommendation by the Joint Provincial Security Coordinating Center (JPSCC), due to security threats from the New People’s Army.
Also classified as orange category are the cities of Kabankalan, Silay, Sipalay and Victorias and the municipalities of Binalbagan, Cauayan, Manapla, Hinobaan, Ilog, Isabela, La Castellana and Toboso
There are 19 LGUs, including the highly-urbanized Bacolod City, listed by the JPSCC as potential areas of concerns during the May 9 elections in Negros Occidental.
Salazar said he expect changes in the classification of LGUs as either red, orange, yellow and green, as the May 9 elections nears.
He said that the decision to lower to yellow from green category of Bacolod City, as recommended by the City Joint Security Coordinating Center, lies with the Regional JSCC.
The RJSCC earlier placed Bacolod City under yellow category due to intense political rivalries.*