30 Negros Occidental villages under election watch

A TOTAL OF 30 hinterland villages in Negros Occidental will be under the tight watch of the Philippine Army and the Commission on Elections (Comelec) in relation to the October 28 barangay polls.

This was determined by the Army, Philippine National Police, and the Comelec after a command conference of the Joint Peace and Security Coordinating Center at the Governor’s Hall on Saturday.

Colonel Jon Aying, commander of the 303rd Brigade, said “the tight watching there is that we see to it that no armed group will influence the voters in these areas.”

Aying said that these 30 barangays under tight watch are where there is an established influence by the New People’s Army (NPA) rebels.

He said the military wants to ensure that the people will vote on who they choose, and not under threat or intimidation by the rebels.

Aying assured, though, they will also watch over the areas that are not influenced by rebels, but may be threatened by them for the electorate to vote for their endorsed candidates.

“I think the tension should be lesser than what it was during the national and local elections, (and) while the rivalry may trigger violence it will not reach the provincial level and will be contained in the barangays,” Aying said.

He also urged the people to help in ensuring fair and peaceful barangay elections.

For his part, lawyer Jessie Suarez, provincial Comelec supervisor, said they will not lower their guards as far as ensuring peaceful and orderly elections for the slated October 28 polls, including as far as the influence of the NPA is concern.

Suarez said he has also directed all election officers to monitor the candidates who are running, to know if they are influenced or not, and submit a report from time to time.

He said this election is also lighter in load because this will be manually done and no longer through the Precinct Count Optical Scan or PCOS machine.

He stressed that as far as the slated October 28 poll is concerned, the Comelec is fully prepared, and is on strict timeline as far as the delivery of election paraphernalia is scheduled. (Sun.Star Bacolod)
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