By Connie Calipay
LEGAZPI CITY – The Commission on Elections (Comelec) Bicol regional office has listed more than 400 “areas of concern” in connection with the Oct. 30 Barangay and Sangguniang Kabataan Elections (BSKE).
In an interview on Wednesday, Maria Juana Valeza, Comelec-Bicol regional director, said out of the 3,471 barangays in the six provinces, 448 are under their watch and belong to the red, orange and yellow categories.
“Under the Red category, we have 23 barangays. We have 312 barangays for the Orange category or with previous records of election-related conflicts that can be managed, while “Yellow” or those with a history of election-related incidents and possible employment of partisan armed groups, we have 113 barangays,” Valeza said.
She said the barangays under the Red category are in the provinces of Albay and Masbate.
“These areas are on high alert in terms of security. We normally augment the number of personnel from the Philippine National Police (PNP) and the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) also activate some reservists,” she said.
Valeza said they are closely monitoring the 23 barangays since there is the possibility of putting them under Comelec control.
“All the factors that may affect the conduct of elections are present such as intense political rivalry, presence of private armed groups (PAGs), and presence of communist terrorist groups (CTGs). Last Monday, we submitted this listing to the Commission En Banc and hopefully, they already resolved this listing since they have an En Banc session today. We will just wait. They will see this Red category if whether or not to place these areas under Comelec control,” she said.
Meanwhile, in a separate interview, Comelec-Albay Election Supervisor Ma. Aurea Bo-Bunao said that even if there are barangays under the Red category, they are still confident of a smooth, peaceful and orderly election.
“With the full force of the PNP (Philippine National Police) and the AFP (Armed Forces of the Philippines) as our deputized agencies with the Coast Guard in the coastal barangays, we are assuring and committing to peaceful elections,” Bo-Bunao said.
Meanwhile, a total of 49 candidates have been ordered by the Comelec to answer allegations of premature campaigning. (PNA)