ILOILO CITY – The Regional Joint Security Control Center (RJSCC) on Thursday approved the recommendation of its six provincial counterparts identifying 172 barangays in Western Visayas as election areas of concern during the command conference in preparation for the Oct. 30 polls.
“We would like to make it on the record that we adopted the recommendations of the six Provincial Joint Security Control Centers and so far as Region 6 (Western Visayas) is concerned, we have identified 172 election areas of concern. Out of that 172, six will be under the yellow category, 163 under the orange category, and three would be under the red category,” Regional Election Director, Lawyer Dennis Ausan, said in a press conference held at the Camp Martin Delgado in Iloilo City.
The majority of the areas experience serious armed threats posed by the communist terrorist group, as well as intense political rivalry, and election-related violent incidents as in the case of Moises Padilla in Negros Occidental.
The region has 3,879 barangays under the green category or areas of no security concern.
Ausan said the classification followed the parameters set by the Commission on Elections (Comelec).
For areas under the yellow category or areas of concern, the parameters include the occurrence of election-related incident (ERI) in the past two elections and politically motivated ERI in the current election period, provided there was no participation of domestic terror groups; existence of intense partisan political rivalry; possible employment of partisan armed groups by candidates in the area; and was previously declared under the Comelec control.
For orange or areas of immediate concern, the parameters include a combination of two or more factors under the yellow category or the New People’s Army (NPA) posed a serious armed threat.
For red or areas of grave concern that may warrant the motu-proprio declaration of Comelec control, it has to have one or more factors under category yellow together with serious armed threats posed by the NPA and other similar groups under category orange.
RJSCC data showed Iloilo and Negros Occidental have three barangays each under the yellow category, while Negros Occidental has three more barangays classified as areas of grave concern.
The rest are under the orange category consisting of: Aklan -- two; Antique -- 12; Capiz -- 14; Iloilo -- 90 and Negros Occidental -- 45.
“The evaluation continues on the realities on the ground. This list could be lessened or increased in the next few weeks. It all depends on the actualities on the ground,” Ausan said.
Maj. Gen. Marion R. Sison, commander of the Philippine Army's 3rd Infantry Division, said they are on relentless combat operations against insurgency, and the recent encounter between the 82nd Infantry Battalion and NPA rebels in a remote barangay of Jayubo in Lambunao, Iloilo was part of their continuous operation.
“We are expecting more. We are co-locating with them. We are running after them, and hopefully, even during this election time, we would be able to catch them,” Sison said.
He added the quick reaction force has been put in place while they will see to it that their security preparations are flexible for them to attend to any eventualities, especially in areas identified as areas of concern.
Police Regional Office 6 (PRO6) director Brig. Gen. Sidney Villaflor said they have enough personnel, and their deployment will depend on the classification of areas. (PNA)