BACOLOD CITY — Some 2.2 million registered voters in Negros Occidental, including its capital Bacolod City, will cast their ballots during the national and local elections on Monday.
Data from the Commission on Elections (Comelec) showed that Negros Occidental has 1,889,200 voters in 12 cities and 19 municipalities. In the province, there are 2,353 clustered precincts located in various voting centers.
Bacolod City has a total of 312,816 voters in 61 barangays. It has a total of 353 clustered precincts situated in 45 voting centers.
Gov. Alfredo Marañon Jr., who is no longer seeking an elective position as his third and final term ends on June 30, said he hopes for a peaceful, honest, and credible elections.
The governor urged all candidates in the province to help ensure this will happen.
“That is the essence of democracy, clean elections. We should aim for it,” he added.
Col. Romeo Baleros, police provincial director, echoed the governor’s call as he enjoined Negrenses to cooperate in making the mid-term elections successful and peaceful.
“Let us work hand-in-hand (to achieve this),” Baleros appealed.
Negros Occidental has been put in the spotlight after the Comelec placed one of its municipalities –Moises Padilla– under its control a week before the May 13 elections.
During the election period, two reelectionist councilors, Jolomar Hilario and Jose Antonio “Michael” Garcia, as well as former councilor Jose Marcelino “Marc” Garcia, were shot to death in the central Negros town.
On May 8, President Rodrigo Duterte arrived in Moises Padilla to preside a security meeting with officials of the Philippine National Police and Philippine Army in Western Visayas.
The Chief Executive was joined by Interior Secretary Eduardo Año and Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana.
Año said Duterte ordered warring politicians to put a stop to election-related violence in Moises Padilla, where both the police and the military have beefed up security forces ahead of Monday’s elections.
In Negros Occidental, the Comelec has listed Moises Padilla and Himamaylan City, both situated in the Fifth District, under Category Red.
This means they are considered areas of grave concern, with a history of election-related incidents in the past two elections and intense political rivalry, with a serious armed threat posed by the New People’s Army and other lawless elements.
Last Monday, the Negros Occidental Police Provincial Office sent off a total of 3,251 security personnel for the elections.
The contingent comprised of 1,855 policemen assigned to secure the voting centers –1,477 from the provincial police units along with 122 from the Regional Police Holding and Accounting Unit, and 166 from the Bacolod City Police Office.
Others included 396 members of the Negros Occidental Police Mobile Force Company and 1,000 troops from the 303rd Infantry Brigade of the Philippine Army, all designated as quick response force.
In Bacolod City, a total of 513 policemen and augmentation forces were sent off on Thursday.
The Comelec has placed the capital city under Category Green, which refers to areas that do not have security concerns and are generally peaceful and orderly. (Nanette Guadalquiver PNA via NDB)