BY DOMINIQUE GABRIEL G. BAÑAGA
BACOLOD City – Escalante City and the town of Moises Padilla both in Negros Occidental may be classified as election “areas of concern”, according to the Commission on Elections (Comelec).
Both areas have histories of election-related violence, according to Atty. Ian Lee Ananoria, the outgoing Comelec-Negros Occidental elections supervisor.
On top of this, said Ananoria, the presence of communist insurgents have been confirmed in Escalante City and Moises Padilla town.
Ananoria, however, clarified that the National Joint Security Control Center has yet to release the guidelines or parameters in determining election areas of concern.
During the election period in 2019, reelectionist councilor and human rights advocate Bernardino Patigas was shot dead in Barangay Alimango, Escalante City on April 22 of that year.
Three days later, on April 25, 20 armed men attacked the campaign convoy of then Moises Padilla vice mayor Ella Garcia-Yulo – who was running for mayor – in Barangay Inolingan of the said town.
Garcia-Yulo survived the attack. However, her brother Mark and their uncle, reelectionist town councilor Michael Garcia, died.
In March of the same year, Moises Padilla councilor Jolomar Hilario was killed in the town’s Barangay Inolingan by New People’s Army rebels.
In the aftermath of the attacks in 2019, the Comelec placed Moises Padilla under the “red category” and tagged the town as an “area of grave concern”./PN