By Dominique Gabriel G. Bañaga
The Commission on Elections (Comelec) in Negros Occidental has named the two local government units (LGUs) which may possibly be tagged as “areas of concern” in the upcoming 2022 National and Local Elections.
Outgoing Comelec-Negros Occidental Elections Supervisor, Atty. Ian Lee Ananoria, named the two LGUs as Escalante City and the town of Moises Padilla.
Ananoria said the National Joint Security Control Center has yet to release the guidelines and parameters on how an LGU may be tagged as an “area of concern.”
However, the reason why the two LGUs are currently being eyed as an election hotspot is because of their history in the previous elections.
Escalante City and Moises Padilla have a history of election-related violence, as well as the presence of communist insurgents.
During the previous election period in 2019, a reelectionist councilor and human rights advocate, Bernardino Patigas, was shot dead as he was going home in Barangay Alimango, Escalante City on April 22 of that year.
Three days later on April 25, 20 armed men attacked a campaign convoy carrying then-Moises Padilla Vice Mayor Ella Garcia-Yulo, who was running for the mayoralty post at the time.
The attack took place at Barangay Inolingan in the said town.
Garcia-Yulo survived the attack, however, his brother, Mark Garcia and their uncle, reelectionist town Councilor Michael Garcia, were killed.
In March of the same year, Moises Padilla town Councilor Jolomar Hilario was also killed in the town’s Barangay Inolingan by rebels from the New People’s Army.
In the aftermath of the attacks in 2019, the Comelec ultimately placed the town under the “Red Category” and tagged the town as an “area of grave concern.”/DGB, WDJ