FOUR days before the local and national elections, communist New People’s Army (NPA) guerrillas in Samar province in the Visayas have started harassing people and threatening to harm them if they will not vote for a presidential and a senatorial candidate whom the rebel group is supporting, the military reported on Thursday.
Reports reaching the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) headquarters in Camp Aguinaldo, Quezon City, said two separate incidents of intimidation involving the NPA were recorded since Wednesday.
According to the reports, about 20 heavily-armed rebels hauled around 30 residents of Barangay De-it in Matuguinao, Samar, all of whom were political leaders of a mayoralty candidate.
In Barangay Candomacol, Motiong, Samar, around 15 fully-armed guerrillas were also monitored campaigning for a presidential candidate and a senatorial candidate.
“The group of rebels threatened to execute barangay [village]officials if their endorsed candidates lose in their respective areas. Further reports said the residents in Barangay Calapi, Bunga and Malobago in Motiong requested additional AFP presence due to the NPA members in the area,” Col. Noel Detoyato, chief of the AFP Public Affairs Office, said.
He added that the AFP has responded to these reports and continues to monitor threat groups including the NPA that terrorizes the communities.
Meanwhile, Detoyato said that as part of the AFP’s mission to provide security support and assistance to the Commission on Elections (Comelec) in the implementation of election laws, rules and regulations, various military units are at present active in providing convoy escort, patrols, clearing and security operations and joint checkpoint operations with the Philippine National Police.
“This is primarily to ensure the safe delivery of election equipment in different voting areas across the country,” he explained.
Meanwhile, security forces from the 47th Infantry Battalion successfully delivered to San Francisco, Puro, Tudela and Pilar towns of Cebu 97 Vote Counting Machines or VCMs, ballot box body and top cover, battery kits and four Consolidation and Canvassing System (CCS) kits.
“No untoward incidents were reported in all the operations that we have conducted to secure the delivery of election equipment,” Detoyato said.