Negros Occ. to deploy more than 2,000 cops for May polls; 18 areas on election watchlist

BACOLOD CITY - A total of 2,452 policemen will be deployed in this year’s local and national elections in Negros Occidental where 18 areas have been placed under the election watchlist.

Lt. Abegael Donasco, Negros Occidental police spokesperson, said these personnel will be sourced out from police stations, provincial maneuver companies, and Negros Occidental Provincial Police Office (NOCPPO) headquarters.

However, as of March 1, only 2,028 are deployable, according to Donasco.

Despite the lack of personnel, Donasco said that 129 personnel of the Bacolod City Police Office (BCPO) are ready for augmentation.

Personnel of the Negros Occidental Police Provincial Office (Nocppo) during the launching of “Kasimbayanan” at the NOCPPO headquarters in Bacolod City for a safe and peaceful election in the province last week. (Photo courtesy of NOCPPO / MANILA BULLETIN)

Donasco said they have already informed Police Regional Office (PRO)-Western Visayas regarding the 424 personnel needed to reach the required total deployment of cops in the province.

“We are just waiting for their guidance,” she added.

Donasco also said that there are 699 voting centers in the province.

She also disclosed the 18 election watchlist areas in the province that were validated by the local police and the Army.

Don Salvador Benedicto was classified as an area of concern, while areas of immediate concern are the cities of Silay, Victorias, Himamaylan, Kabankalan, Sipalay, and the towns of Binalbagan, Manapla, Cauayan, Hinobaan, Ilog, Isabela, La Castellana, and Toboso.

Tagged as areas of grave concern are Escalante City, and the towns of Calatrava, Moises Padilla, and Candoni.

An area of concern is where there is intense political rivalry and election-related violence; while an area of immediate concern is where there is a presence of the New People’s Army (NPA) or armed groups. An area of grave concern has the combined factors of both, according to the Commission on Elections (Comelec).

However, despite the validation, Donasco said that it may change anytime soon until election day.

In 2019, the town of Moises Padilla was placed under Comelec control due to intense political violence and rivalry that even prompted the visit of President Rodrigo Duterte.