AROUND 312, 816 voters in Bacolod City and close to 1.9 million voters in Negross Occidental are expected to troop to their polling precincts on Monday, May 13, from 6 a.m up to 6 p.m. to vote for the new set of local officials, party list representative and senators.
Lawyer Tictac Villanueva, provincial elections supervisor, said there were no major hitches during the final testing and sealing of the Vote Counting Machines (VCM) and the Voters Registration Verification Machines (VRVM) in the province and Bacolod City.
Villanueva said Negros Occidental has a total of 2,353 clustered precincts and 1,889,200 total registered voters, the fourth largest voting population in the Philippines.
Bacolod City has a total of 353 clustered precincts and 45 voting centers.
Acting Bacolod election registrar Ann Janette Lamban said they are expecting a peaceful and orderly election in Bacolod City and Negros Occidental.
“The voters should vote wisely. Choose the right candidates,” she said.
She added the voters should have their own lists of candidates to vote so they can finish early.
“Hopefully, our voters will vote early and not to wait the closing time,” Lamban said.
She said Commission on Elections (Comelec) deployed a help desk in all polling precincts to assists the voters.
“Those who cannot find their names in the lists, they should approach the help desk to locate their names,” she added.
Records of the provincial office of the Comelec show there are 797 local candidates vying for local posts in the province's 32 towns and cities, including Bacolod City.
Two candidates are vying for the post of governor led by, incumbent Vice Governor Eugenio Jose Lacson of the unified Love Negros and United Negros Alliance against independent Rolando Parpa, while former 4th district Representative Jeffrey Ferrer is running unopposed as vice governor.
There are 11 candidates for congressman vying for the seven congressional districts in the province including the lone district of Bacolod City.
There are 20 candidates for provincial board members; 74 for mayors; 64- vice mayors and the remaining 675 running for city and municipal councils.
Three out of seven candidates for congressional seats in Negros Occidental, including Bacolod City, are unopposed in the May 2019 elections.
The sure winners are led by first-timer Jose Francisco Benitez, president of Philippine Women’s University, who is running for representative of the third district to succeed his elder brother, Alfredo Benitez, leader of Love Negros, who is now in his third and last term.
The third district covers the cities of Talisay, Silay, Victorias and the municipalities of Murcia and E.B. Magalona.
Also running unopposed is Ma. Lourdes “Marilou” Arroyo-Lesaca, sister-in-law of House Speaker Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo.
Arroyo-Lesaca, has served as Kasangga party-list representative from 2007 to 2010.
The fifth district covers Himamaylan City and the towns of Hinigaran, Binalbagan, Isabela, La Castellana and Moises Padilla.
In the second district, incumbent Rep. Leo Rafael Cueva is also assured of a third and final term.
The 2nd district covers the cities of Sagay and Cadiz and Manapla town.
In the first district, incumbent Rep. Melecio Yap Jr. opted not to seek reelection, leaving the field wide open to San Carlos City Mayor Gerardo Valmayor of Love-Negros as well as opponents Ernesto Librando and Romulo Guion.
Incumbent Fourth District Rep. Juliet Marie Ferrer, who is seeking a fresh mandate for a second term, will be challenged by Ann Joan Lenling and Enrique Erobas, while in the sixth district, former vice governor Genaro Alvarez Jr. is aiming a return to Congress with Joaquin Bilbao as challenger.
In the lone district of Bacolod City, Rep. Greg Gasataya is challenged by former mayor Monico Puentevella, who previously served as congressman for three terms.
Bacolod City has the richest voting population in the province, with 312,816.
First District has 249,468 voters; Second District, 206,751 voters; Third District, 306,931 voters; Fourth District, 241,076 voters; and Fifth District, 277,004 voters; and Sixth District, 295,254 voters.
The Negros Occidental Police Provincial Office has deployed 3,251 election security officers.
The contingent included 1,477 officers from Nocppo while the augmentation forces came from the Bacolod City Police Office (166), Regional Personnel Holding and Accounting Unit (212), Negros Occidental Provincial Mobile Force Company (396), and Armed Forces of the Philippines (1,000).
The provincial headquarters also provided 57 vehicles, 41 motorcycles, 2,874 long and short firearms, and 328 radio communication handsets.
Meanwhile, Brig. Gen. Benedict Arevalo, 303rd Infantry Brigade commander, said more than 300 soldiers were deployed in Moises Padilla town where numerous checkpoints were put up and in neighboring areas.
Arevalo said they were also checking reported sightings of New People’s Army (NPA) rebels in the area.
NPA rebels killed Councilor Jolomar Hilario who barged at his residence on March 30.
Councilor Michael Garcia and his uncle Mark were killed in an ambush in Barangay Inolingan on April 25.
The victims were in a convoy of vehicles with Vice Mayor Ella Celestina Garcia-Yulo, who is running for mayor, when they were attacked. Yulo was unhurt.
Moises Padilla is the third area placed under Comelec control amid election-related killings after Daraga in Albay and Cotabato City.