The eight hinterland barangays of Guihulngan City are likely candidates to be placed under the Election Watchlist Areas (EWAS) in Negros Oriental, in line with the May 13 elections.
Brig. Gen. Ignacio Madriaga, 302nd Infantry Brigade commander, said yesterday that this is due to the series of violent activities perpetrated by the New People’s Army in those areas, especially assassinations and encounters with government forces.
Armed skirmishes had ensued between NPA rebels and 94IB troopers in Brgy. Tacpao, Guihulngan City, Negros Oriental, and in Brgy. Magballo, Kabankalan City, Negros Occidental, during the weekend.
The hinterland barangays of Guihulngan City and remote villages of Moises Padilla and Isabela towns in Negros Occidental are considered by the Philippine Army as the “center of gravity” of the NPA’s Central Negros Front of the Komiteng Rehiyonal-Negros.
Military operations as being conducted without let-up in Guihulngan City and neighboring areas, and these triggered the series of armed skirmishes, Madriaga said.
But Ka JB Regalado, spokesman of the Leonardo Panaligan Command in central Negros, claimed success in their series of tactical offensives against Army and PNP forces stationed in Guihulngan City.
Madriaga said they will present their recommendations on areas in Negros Oriental that may be placed under EWAS during a Joint Regional Security Coordinating Center conference in Cebu.
Col. Benedict Arevalo, 303rd Infantry Brigade commander, said whether an EWAS list for Negros Occidental, will be issued, will be known when the May 13 campaign period kicks off.
The Philippine National Police earlier identified EB Magalona, Moises Padilla, Toboso, Salvador Benedicto and Isabela as among the hotly-contested election areas in Negros Occidental due to intense political rivalry and reported presence of NPA rebels.
Madriaga and Arevalo said that more troops are expected to be deployed in areas that will be included in the EWAS list.*
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