Central Visayas cops to focus on Negros Oriental in barangay, SK elections
CEBU CITY — The Central Visayas police is focusing on Negros Oriental in its preparation for the Barangay and Sangguniang Kabataan Elections (BSKE) in October this year.
Lieutenant Colonel Gerard Ace Pelare, spokesperson of the Police Regional Office in Central Visayas (PRO-7), said they conducted threat assessments in Negros Oriental after the killing of former governor Roel Degamo and nine other persons inside the residential compound of the late local executive in Pamplona town on March 4.
“We have identified persons who need security detail from the police. But we are still accessing how many security details we need to assign to that person, or is it necessary to add more police personnel for him or her,” he said in a recent interview.
Pelare said they received suggestions to postpone the BSKE in Negros Oriental due to the ongoing tension in the province, but PRO-7 had yet to discuss the matter.
The Commission on Elections, he said, has criteria to consider in deciding which localities should be placed under the Election Watchlist Areas (EWAs).
Those under EWAs are areas of concern, immediate concern, and grave concern.
Areas of concern include those that had election-related incidents in the past two polls, intense political rivalry, and the presence of armed groups.
The areas of immediate concern are those where there are communist rebels, Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters, and other threat groups that may disrupt the election.
Areas of grave concern are those that have the presence of all the elements from the two other classifications.
At least 11 suspects in the Pamplona massacre have been under the custody of authorities. Another suspect died in an alleged shootout with government troops in Negros Oriental.
Some of the suspects have executed extrajudicial confessions and identified a certain “Congressman Teves” as the mastermind behind the killing of Degamo.
Rep. Arnolfo “Arnie” Teves Jr. of Negros Oriental’s third district, repeatedly denied the accusations through social media.
The embattled congressman refused to return to the country due to security concerns.
Pelare said PRO-7 was backtracking all the crimes in Negros Oriental not only because of the BSKE, but also to find out whether these were related to politics, personal grudge, or communist group.
He said PRO-7’s security preparation includes proactive measures where all elected government officials in the region would be subjected to threat assessment.
Based on police records, 129 places in Central Visayas were declared areas of concern during the 2018 barangay elections.
Pelare highlighted the need for candidates to discuss issues and concerns peacefully instead of taking matters in their hands.
“Part of the intervention of PRO-7 to avoid chaos in the Barangay and SK Elections is dialogue (with all stakeholders and concerned parties),” he said.