DUMAGUETE CITY -– Four cities and six municipalities in Negros Oriental were identified Thursday as election watch list areas (EWAs) and would therefore be under close watch until the May 9 synchronized elections, the Commission on Elections (Comelec) here announced.
The specific list came after the Philippine National Police (PNP) hierarchy identified last December the province of Negros Oriental as among the six priority “election hotspots” in the country in line with the mid-term polls.
These are Guihulngan City, Jimalalud, La Libertad and Canlaon City in the first district, Pamplona and Tanjay City in the 2nd district, and Siaton, Sta. Catalina, Bayawan City and Basay in the 3rd district, revealed Provincial Election Supervisor Atty. Eddie Aba.
According to Atty. Aba, the consolidated watch list of the Philippine National Police (PNP), the Philippine Army and other government security forces was formally approved during a seminar/workshop Thursday of the Provincial Joint Security Coordinating Council (PJSCC) at the PNP provincial office in Agan-an, Sibulan town.
The common parameters for these towns and cities to be placed in the election watchlist, Aba said, include the presence of the CPP/NPA (Communist Party of the Philippines/New People’s Army), election related violent incidents in the previous polls, and intense political rivalry.
The Comelec supervisor, however, cautioned that the final election watch list of areas in Negros Oriental could change any time, with certain areas to be possibly removed from it while others recommended for inclusion.
From time to time, the Comelec and the PJSCC will be updating and assessing areas in the province and there might be changes before the elections, said Aba.
More security preparations will be given to these election watchlist areas, Aba confirmed, but he stressed that this does not mean other areas not in the list would not be provided similar attention.
The PNP hierarchy had announced that the six priority “election hotspots”, namely Pangasinan, Maguindanao, Masbate, Negros Oriental, Lanao del Sur and Western Samar will be given additional police personnel in time for the elections.
The PNP and the Armed Forces in the province, being deputized agencies of the poll body, would have to make recommendations to the provincial election watch list for approval regarding the deployment of troops, security personnel and other requirements, Aba explained.
He admitted that it is his personal opinion that election related violence is “most likely to happen” in Negros Oriental.
“This is the very reason why we are intensifying our security preparations,” Aba emphasized. PNA/northboundasia.com