ELECTION CHECKPOINT. Officers of Commission on Elections in Iloilo and the Miagao police conduct a poll checkpoint operation in Barangay Igtuba, Miagao, Iloilo. Miagao is one of the nine towns in the province placed under ‘category orange’ because of the recent armed encounters between the Army and the rebels. An area is placed under category orange when there are monitored presence and existence of rebel groups, said Iloilo Police Provincial Office Col. Marlon Tayaba on Thursday (March 28, 2019). (Photo courtesy of Miagao PNP)
ILOILO CITY -- Nine municipalities in Iloilo province were placed under category orange due to monitored rebel presence, the Provincial Commission on Elections (Comelec) has said.
With the start of the local campaign period on Friday, Atty. Roberto Salazar, Comelec Iloilo supervisor, said Team Baklas will start tearing down campaign posters attached outside common poster areas and do not conform with the size prescribed by Comelec.
Salazar, however, said that the Team Baklas will skip the municipalities of Igbaras, Miag-ao, San Joaquin, Tubungan, Lambunao, Leon, Bingawan, Alimodian, and San Rafael, areas placed under category orange.
“There were encounters between the Army and the rebels in these areas and we were advised by the higher office to skip these municipalities,” Salazar said in a phone interview on Thursday.
Salazar explained that during Operation Baklas, the Philippine National Police will accompany the Team Baklas for security.
Meanwhile, Iloilo Police Provincial Office director Col. Marlon Tayaba said the police force is on red alert for the Communist Party of the Philippines-New People’s Army’s (CPP-NPA) 50th anniversary.
He added the security forces expect the rebels to mark the celebration with atrocities.
“We have augmented our police stations with number of personnel to enhance the defensive… and do the necessary police operations,” he said in a separate telephone interview.
Three of the recent armed encounters occurred in two towns that were placed under orange category, an area is placed under category orange when there are monitored presence and existence of rebel groups.
One transpired in Barangay Mulangan, Igbaras, Iloilo on March 17; Sitio Igburay, Barangay Lacay Doldol, Igbaras, Iloilo on March 20; and the latest encounter on Sitio Burak, Barangay Alimodias, Miagao, Iloilo on Sunday.
The Armed Forces of the Philippines on Wednesday also asked tourists to stay away from the hinterlands in the towns of Miagao, Igbaras, and San Joaquin while the military’s operations against New People’s Army rebels are ongoing.