By Dominique Gabriel G. Bañaga
A Philippine Army battalion revealed between 10 to 15 candidates in Negros Oriental vying for various positions in today’s barangay and Sangguniang Kabataan (SK) elections have links to the New People’s Army (NPA).
Philippine Army 62nd Infantry Battalion (62IB) commander, Lt. Colonel Darrell Bañez, said the candidates in question are currently subject for verification.
He added, there are also a number of incumbent barangay officials in the province who are sympathetic to the NPA cause, pointing out, most are from Guihulngan City.
“32 of its 35 barangays have been labeled by the military as NPA-affected areas,” Bañez noted.
The city is also home to the most “electoral hotpots” in the province with 20 barangays named due to a strong NPA presence.
The military official said, while the NPA is not likely to disrupt elections since “police and military visibility will be heightened,” they may be using candidates to “politicize” the election in their favor.
“It is probable the [NPA is] fielding their own candidates to perpetuate their control in these barangays,” he pointed out.
Police Regional Office-7 earlier tagged Negros Oriental as a priority province due to the ongoing insurgency problem./DGB, WDJ