Ballots arrive; Army confirms NPA extortion

THE military confirmed on Monday the extortion activities of alleged members of the New People's Army as the October 28 barangay elections is near.

Colonel Jon Aying, 303rd Infantry Brigade commander, said this is especially in barangays identified as election areas of concern.

The Commission on Elections (Comelec)-Negros Occidental office on Monday also started releasing the official ballots for all towns and cities in the province for the barangay elections.

The official ballots were distributed to the respective election officers of the local government units, in the presence of the watchers of the candidates.

Ayng said that the election is another season for the rebels to earn money through extortion, that's why the army is closely monitoring the election areas of concern.

He warned the candidates anew against giving in to the extortion activities by the rebels.

Sr. Supt. Milko Lirazan, provincial police director, on the other hand, said that checkpoints are now strictly imposed in all towns and cities.

He said that three to four checkpoints are set up in every locality. He also warned that the gun ban continues until the election period is over on November 12.

In Pulupandan, unlike in previous years where most of the administration's candidates were unopposed, election officer Tess Parroco confirmed that a real contest is happening this election in the town.

She said that 16 out of 20 barangays especially the incumbent officials are having opponents.

In Bacolod City, Comelec identified the barangays where massive violations of election rules and regulations are noted to be committed by the candidates.

Lawyer Mavil Majarocon-Sia, Bacolod election registrar, yesterday said she has sent notices of violations to some candidates in barangays Granada, Taculing, Bata and Mansilingan after poll personnel have taken footages and pictures of their campaign materials that violated Comelec guidelines.

"I already sent these evidences to our legal department so that it can take action," Majarucon-Sia said.

She pointed out that the poll body can file on its own, or "motu propio," and file cases for election offenses against these violators.

Majarucon-Sia said if there complainants who are willing to file it in writing under oath, it will be sent to provincial elections supervisor, Jessie Suarez, who will send it to the regional office who will grant the authority to conduct a preliminary investigation so that a decision can be immediately made.

"We will be very strict on matters of violations of our rules," she said.

The Comelec had warned the candidates that posting especially nailing their campaign materials on trees are strictly prohibited.
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