More barangays tagged as election areas of concern in NegOr

By Mary Judaline Partlow

May 2, 2018, 8:25 pm

 DUMAGUETE CITY -- The Philippine National Police (PNP) in Negros Oriental announced Wednesday that the number of barangays in Negros Oriental that have been included in the election watchlist areas (EWAs) has increased, less than two weeks before the barangay and Sangguniang Kabataan (SK) elections

Supt. Catherine Ramos, spokesperson of the Negros Oriental PNP Provincial Office (NOPPO), said during the Diocesan Electoral Board (DEB) meeting Wednesday that to date there are 73 barangays spread out in 17 towns and cities in the province that are tagged as possible election areas of concern. 

She said the latest count is much higher than the previous 64 barangays, which government security forces initially disclosed last month, and is also higher than the 2016 national elections which had only 34 EWAs.

The towns and cities with potential EWAs are Bais City, Bayawan City, Canlaon City, Guihulngan City, Tanjay City, Ayungon, Bindoy, Jimalalud, La Libertad, Mabinay, Manjuyod, Pamplona, Sibulan, Sta. Catalina, Tayasan, Valencia, and Siaton.

Of the number, Guihulngan City has the highest with 20 barangays. 

She said three of these barangays are identified as having intense political rivalry. These are Barangay Kalamtukan in Bayawan City, Barangay Yupisan in Pamplona, and Barangay Tacpao in Guihulngan City.

On the implementation of Commission on Elections (Comelec) gun ban from April 14 to date, Ramos further said the police arrested eight personalities, confiscated eight firearms, including three deadly weapons, and cases were already filed in court.

She also disclosed that so far, there are no monitored/identified private armed groups (PAGs) in Negros Oriental as the formerly identified PAGs in the previous elections were already neutralized.

Acting PNP provincial director Sr. Supt. Edwin Portento explained that Guihulngan City has the highest number of barangays in the election watch list because of the presence of the Communist Party of the Philippines/New People’s Army (CPP/NPA).

Portento pointed out the strong presence of the CPP/NPA in Guihulngan City and the ambush-slay of six policemen, including the police chief, and the wounding of three other PNP personnel for which the insurgent group had claimed responsibility.

The provincial police director believed that EWAs in Negros Oriental could still go down once the PNP and the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) would conduct another workshop.

“We are hoping that in the coming workshops that the numbers would still go down, especially if we see that there is no threat (in a barangay), then the figures would go down because this is just for operational purposes,” he said.

The Comelec, headed by provincial election supervisor lawyer Eddie Aba, and the Diocesan Electoral Board have called for a coordinating meeting with the PNP and AFP, and attended by the media, to discuss preparations for the May 14 barangay and SK polls. (PNA)