By Dolly Yasa
BACOLOD City – The Commission on Elections (Comelec) on Monday named 13 towns and cities in Negros Occidental as “areas of concern” in connection with the May 9, 2022 elections.
Provincial Comelec Supervisor Roberto Salazar said the factors considered in identifying an area of concern are intense political rivalries, history of election-related incidents, presence of private armed groups, the New People’s Army, and other threat groups.
Salazar also said that there might be some changes to the list, as the Comelec central office has yet to issue a resolution on the matter.
There are three categories in the identification of election watch list areas, such as areas of concern, areas of immediate concern and areas of grave concern, he added.
Salazar said a town or city may fall under the category of “areas of concern” if it has a history of election-related incident and occurrence of intense political rivalries, areas of immediate concern if there are presence of NPA rebels, or private armed groups, and a combination of both for areas of grave concern.
Identified by the Comelec as an area of concern was Don Salvador Benedicto, while local government units tagged as areas of immediate concern were Manapla, Silay City, Victorias City, Toboso, Binalbagan, Himamaylan City, Hinobaan and Kabankalan City.
The municipalities of Moises Padilla and Candoni, as well as Escalante City, were placed under the category of areas under grave concern, Salazar said.
In 2019 elections, Moises Padilla was placed under Comelec control due to intense political rivalries, occurrence of election-related incidents, which reportedly involved partisan armed groups and New People’s Army rebels.