THE Commission on Elections (Comelec) regional office clarified that no election "hot spots" are identified in Negros Occidental, said Comelec regional director Dennis Ausan Wednesday.

He said what they declared in Negros are only areas of concern which have been included in the Comelec watchlist based on the incidents in the past elections.

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Those in the Comelec watchlist are Pulupandan as Catergory 1, while the towns of Moises Padilla, Candoni, and the cities of Escalante, Himamaylan, Cadiz, Silay, Victorias, and Sagay were declared Category 2, which Negros Occidental election supervisor Jessie Suarez disclosed.

Category 1 means there have been election-related violence in an area in previous elections while Category 2 refers the presence of armed groups, such as the Communist rebels in an area, Suarez said.

On the other hand, 28 candidates in the province have been granted security escorts by the Comelec, said Ausan.

This after the regional joint Task Group approved their applications based on the recommendation of the Provincial joint Task Group composed of the Comelec, PNP and the military.

It can be noted that under Comelec rules, only two security personnel as escorts are allowed each candidate to have during the election.

Covenant signing

Bacolod City Mayor Evelio Leonardia has also signed the peace covenant Wednesday at the Bishop's House after 9:30 a.m. concelebrated mass officiated by Bishop Vicente Navarra in line with the feast of Patron Saint San Sebastian at the Cathedral.

Last Sunday, the mayor's wife, Elsa represented him in the signing along with the congressional candidates held at the San Antonio Abad Parish in Barangay Taculing which was also attended by mayoralty candidates that include, former Bacolod city administrator Andrea Lizarez-Si, Bacolod Representative Monico Puentevella and businessman Vladimir Gonzalez.

Also present were congressional candidates former Undersecretary Anthony Golez Jr., Councilor Jocelle Batapa-Sigue, former Land Transportation Office-National Capital Region head Ricardo Tan, former Bacolod Rep. John Orola and former vice mayor Renecito Novero.

Witnesses to the signing were Noppo director Police Senior Superintendent Manuel Felix, BCPO OIC Police Senior Superintendent Celestino Guara, 303rd Infantry Brigade Civil Military Operations Chief Major Nathaniel Villasor, election supervisor Jessie Suarez, Bacolod election officer Ryan Castro, Fr. Anecito Buenafe, Jr., Parish Pastoral Council for Responsible Voting representatives, mayoralty candidate Andrea Si, and councilor Wilson Gamboa Jr. for mayoralty candidate Vladimir Gonzalez, and Councilor Roberto Rojas.

No representative however represented in behalf of mayoralty candidate Representative Monico Puentevella.

Leonardia did not join the Sunday covenant signing because it coincided in his personal pilgrimage "as an act of faith and thanksgiving to the Lord", which he said he observe it during the Feast of the Sto. Niño.

The mayor said it is already in his tradition to go to Kalibo, Aklan to pay homage for his faith of Sto. Niño.

In a letter sent to Bishop Navarra, Leonardia explained that he is most willing to sign this peace covenant as he still believes in a clean, fair, honest, and peaceful elections which he stressed "are the bulwark of our democracy."

The promise

Leonardia pledged to focus on his platform of government and to refrain from attacking the personal lives of his fellow candidates during the campaign period.

Likewise, he promised to avoid the evils of vote buying, election frauds and the use of threats and refrain from spending beyond what is lawfully permitted during the campaign.

The mayor also subscribed to be accountable for the actions of his representative or election/campaign leaders, and to accept nobly the results of the election and respect whatever the decision of the people during the election.

Further, he pledged to defend democracy and its ideals for he believes that his freedom and democratic principles should also not be a victim of dishonest election.

He added that despite their political perspectives, he desire to work for a peaceful and prosperous future of the people.