2 NegOcc LGUs seen as ‘areas of concern’ anew in May polls

Two local government units (LGUs) in Negros Occidental have again been identified as possible “areas of concern” during the May 9 national and local elections.

Outgoing Provincial Election Supervisor Ian Lee Ananoria, set to be transferred to Iloilo province this week, on Tuesday identified the areas as Moises Padilla town and Escalante City, both with histories of election-related incidents in the previous local polls.

Ananoria said the two LGUs could be added to the list although the Commission on Elections (Comelec) has yet to establish the parameters on how to declare certain areas as “hotspots”.

“Still being considered, but not officially declared. It’s still being validated. One of the parameters is past election incidents. They have incidents. Obviously, they will be considered,” he said in a virtual press conference.

Ananoria said this was discussed during the meeting of the Provincial Joint Peace and Security Coordinating Center (JPSCC) on January 8.

Together with the Comelec, the JPSCC consists of the Negros Occidental Police Provincial Office, the Philippine Army’s 303rd Infantry Brigade, and the Philippine Coast Guard Station -Negros Occidental.

During the May 2019 elections, Moises Padilla was placed under Comelec control on May 6, or a week before the polls, following the violent incidents that killed two re-electionist councilors and a former councilor.

Before the declaration, Moises Padilla was listed as an “area of grave concern”, with a history of poll-related incidents in the past two elections, intense political rivalry, and the serious armed threat posed by the New People’s Army (NPA) and other lawless elements.

On May 8, President Rodrigo Duterte himself visited Moises Padilla to preside over a security meeting with Interior Secretary Eduardo Año, Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenza, and top officials of the Philippine National Police and the Philippine Army in Western Visayas.

In the past elections, Escalante City was listed under the “areas of immediate concern”, with a serious armed threat posed by the NPA and other lawless elements after re-electionist Councilor Bernardino Patigas Sr. was killed in a shooting incident about three weeks before the polls.

Source: Philippines News Agency

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