Comelec, gov’t forces in NegOcc gear up for poll security
By Nanette Guadalquiver/PNA
BACOLOD CITY — The Provincial Joint Security Control Center in Negros Occidental, led by the Commission on Elections (Comelec), has kicked off preparations for the national and local elections on May 13.
Provincial Elections Supervisor Milagros Salud Villanueva led the initial command conference held at the Social Hall of the Provincial Capitol here Friday.
“The security plan is being put in place to ensure that our elections, like before, will be peaceful, safe and credible,” Villanueva said in an interview.
She was joined by Bacolod City Election Officer Mavil Majarucon-Sia; Col. Benedict Arevalo, commander of Philippine Army’s 303rd Infantry Brigade; Senior Supt. Romeo Baleros, officer-in-charge of the Negros Occidental Police Provincial Office; and Senior Supt. Francisco Ebreo, acting director of the Bacolod City Police Office.
Villanueva said that for now, they could not yet identify the election watch list areas in Negros Occidental.
“We will know once the election period, going into the campaign period, starts. It will be clear then what areas we will focus on and give emphasis,” she added.
Arevalo said the military considers the New People’s Army as the number one threat during the elections, adding that the rebel group is the top private armed group in Negros, if not in the whole Philippines.
He added that the rebels are trying to create a scenario of violence to boost their extortion activities for the midterm elections.
“We encourage those who are victims of the extortion activities to contact us through our detachments and proper authorities like the police,” Arevalo further said.
On Sunday, the start of the election period, the Bacolod City Police Office, together with Comelec-Bacolod City, will hold a unity walk, prayer rally, and peace covenant signing at the public plaza.
At 6 a.m., a mass will be held at the San Sebastian Cathedral before the activity at the plaza.
Chief Insp. Ariel Pico, city police public information officer, said that through the activity, the Bacolod police hopes to attain peaceful and credible elections with the support and commitment of the candidates.