BACOLOD City – Acting provincial Commission on Elections (Comelec) supervisor Salud Milagros Villanueva said security plans are now being formulated to ensure peaceful, orderly, and credible midterm polls in May 2019.
Villanueva presided over the Provincial Joint Security Control Center meeting and command conference of PNP and Army officials in Negros held at the social hall of the provincial capitol on Friday.
“We are not taking chances in terms of security and in the maintenance of peace and order,” she said.
In the said meeting, the Army said that the New People’s Army (NPA) is the number one threat to the May 13, 2019 elections in Negros.
Villanueva said election areas of concern will be identified soon.
Col. Benedict Arevado, 303rd Infantry Brigade commander, said “We know that they have political intention in the coming mid-term election,”
Arevalo said “the Army is bracing for a possible escalation of attacks by communist rebels as the elections near, to project to candidates being targeted for their extortion activities, that they are still a force to reckon with.”
Earlier, suspected NPA rebels harassed an isolated military outpost in Kabankalan City, which injured an Army soldier.
Aside from the harassment the NPA rebels also executed a government militiaman in Guihulngan City, and burned heavy equipment in Ayungon, all in Negros Oriental, with damage placed at P120 million.
Arevalo said they have been intensifying their combat operations in the Negros hinterlands, even during the yuletide season, to prevent future NPA atrocities.
“That is why there were times that some NPA units left the hinterlands to avoid military operations, and fled towards the lowlands, where they also staged violent activities to divert the attention of authorities.”
Arevalo also urged candidates who may be victimized by the extortion activities of the NPA to coordinate with the Army, or any PNP unit, so that they can take action.
He added that it is expected that the NPA will demand permits to campaign fees in areas they claim as their controlled areas.
Arevalo said there are also reports that some local chief executives are supporting the rebels.