The upsurge in suspected New People’s Army assassinations in Negros Occidental is not election related, it is posturing to gain leverage in the anticipated resumption of the peace talks, Gen. Eliezer Losañes, 303rd Infantry Brigade commander, said yesterday.
Losañes, along with Senior Supt. Rodolfo Castil, Negros Occidental provincial police director, joined a Provincial Joint Security Control Center command conference presided over by Election Provincial Supervisor Jessie Suarez at the Capitol in Bacolod City yesterday.
The command conference was held in preparation for the start of the election period and the filing of certificates of candidacy for the Barangay and Sangguniang Kabataan elections that start tomorrow.
Also present at the command conference was Comelec Commissioner Rowena Guanzon who reminded them to enforce the law in a lawful manner and to respect citizens’ rights in the enforcement of the election gun ban starting tomorrow until May 21.
“In gun ban checkpoints, be guided by one major legal principle: you can only apprehend the suspect if the weapon is in plain view,” she stressed.
“You cannot require drivers and passengers to get off the vehicle. You cannot require them to open their bags,” Guanzon said.
Meanwhile, Losañes said the suspected rebel assassinations, the latest of which caused the death of three in Isabela town in Negros Occidental, is not believed to be election-related.
The NPA want to project that they are still a force to reckon with to gain leverage in the proposed resumption of the peace talks, he said.
Potential targets of the NPA are being advised to be extra careful because they expect an increase in rebel activity, Losañes said.
We are preparing for this, he said, pointing out that conditions of President Rodrigo Duterte for the resumption of the peace talks are no violence and extortion activities by the rebels.
The Isabela incident was not election-related, it is considered a regular crime, Suarez also said.
AREAS OF CONCERN
Suarez said they have not identified areas of concerns for the May 14 polls yet, this will have to be done after the filing of the certificates of candidacy starting Saturday up to April 20, including Sunday.
After the filing of the COCs candidates can be profiled to determine areas of concern, based on possible intense political rivalry, Castil said.
The Comelec will have the final say on that, he said.
Suarez said hinterland areas are closely being watched because of the presence of rebel forces.*CPG
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