The Armed Forces of the Philippines and the National Police in Negros Occidental yesterday adopted security plans for the June 2 special election in the 5th district of Negros Occidental, for submission to the Commission on Elections.
Col. Oscar Lactao, 303rd Infantry Brigade commander, who presided over the Joint Peace Security Coordinating Council meeting at the Provincial Capitol in Bacolod City, said they will aim for zero election-related violent incidents during the entire campaign period.
Military records show that four upland barangays in Moises Padilla, Binalbagan and Himamaylan City, have been classified as rebel-influenced areas, and 16 others categorized as less-influenced.
The official campaign period for the vacated 5th district congressional seat will start on May 17.
Supt. Jefferson Descallar, chief of the Operations and Plans Branch of the Negros Occidental Police Provincial Office, said they included the inaccessible places to transportation among the possible areas of concern in the province during the special election in the 5th district.
Lactao said he also foresees a peaceful election in the 5th district.
“We should ensure that the people in the 5th district will exercise their right to suffrage, free from intimidation,” he added.
A joint tactical command post of the COMELEC, military and police is slated to be established at the NOPPO 2nd Maneuver Platoon headquarters in Hinigaran.
COMELEC records show that there are 139 voting centers in the 5th district, which includes Moises Padilla, Isabela, La Castellana, Hinigaran, Binalbagan and Himamaylan City, with 206,521 voters.
Binalbagan Mayor Alejandro Mirasol and his nephew, Board Member Emilio Yulo III, initially appear to be heading for a showdown for the congressional seat vacated by the death of Rep. Ignacio “Iggy” Arroyo.
Descallar said they will also utilize troopers of the 6th Regional Public Safety Battalion and NOPPO mobile force units for election duties. At the same time, he also requested for help from the Philippine Army to secure the hinterland areas of the 5th district.
Lactao, meanwhile, said the Army and police will jointly man checkpoints in the hinterland areas, and also encouraged visibility operations of the PNP maneuver platoons.
A company-sized unit of the 11th Infantry Battalion is presently deployed in the hinterlands of Himamaylan City and Moises Padilla, town while troopers of the 3rd Infantry Division reconnaissance company will be placed on standby, he added.
The military and police will submit their security plans to provincial Comelec supervisor Jessie Suarez during a joint Comelec-AFP-PNP conference on May 10.* GPB