Iron tight May 13 security measures up in Mindanao

ALL six police regional offices in Mindanao have launched their very tight security measures in coordination with the Armed Forces to arrest the presence of various threat groups led by the Abu Sayyaf and the New People’s Army which may try to disrupt the holding of a peaceful and orderly national and local election in the region on Monday, the Journal Group learned yesterday.

Apart from targeting identified Partisan Armed Groups and their loose weapons in Regions 9,10,11,12, 13 and Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao, police are also guarding the presence of the NPA and the Abu Sayyaf which are historically known for creating disturbances every time there is an election.

Police in Mindanao have been tasked to guard the storage, delivery, and retrieval of vote-counting machines (VCMs) and accessories, ballots and other election paraphernalia. Some of them have also been tasked to secure all Commission on Elections  (Comelec) hubs and offices apart from conducting focused police operations such as the conduct of aggressive campaigns against motorcycle-riding criminals, wanted persons and gun-for-hire personalities to preempt election-related violence.

Mindanao policemen likewise have been directed to intensify their anti-criminality checkpoints and to ensure much-needed police presence thru visibility patrols and other crime prevention measures.

At the same time, they are also tasked to guard and prevent the possibility of vote-buying and to stay non-partisan at all times.

On orders of PNP chief, Director General Oscar D. Albayalde, a total of 160,000 policemen will be rendering election duties on Monday.

The Commission on Elections earlier declared the entire Mindanao region as a  poll ‘hot spot.’ The Comelec said the decision was reached in the wake of suspected election-related incidents in the last two elections, together with serious armed threats posed by the NPA, Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters, Abu Sayyaf Group and rogue elements of the Moro National Liberation Front  and/or Moro Islamic Liberation Front  and other analogous groups in Mindanao.

All Mindanao police directors have expressed their preparedness to ensure a peaceful and orderly election in their areas of jurisdiction. Police Regional Office 9 director, Brigadier General Emmanuel Luis D. Licup said  over 6,000 PRO9 personnel will be securing different polling centers and precincts in Western Mindanao.

Licup ordered the deployment of the police security personnel to their respective assignments last week. The policemen will be assisted by soldiers in guarding assigned polling centers in Western Mindanao which has a total of  2.2 million registered voters distributed in 1,882 voting centers all over the region.

In Northern Mindanao, PRO10 director, Brig. Gen. Timoteo G. Pacleb said they are fully prepared to counter all kinds of threats to the May 13 polls.  He has also ordered the deployment...  

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....of additional police forces in Lanao del Norte, Misamis Oriental, Misamis Occidental, Bukidnon and Cagayan de Oro and Iligan cities.

In Region 11, police regional director, Brig. Gen. Marcelo C. Morales said they are all prepared to ensure the safe and fair conduct of the May 13 polls in Southern Mindanao including Davao City which is the hometown of President Duterte.

In Region 12, Central Mindanao police director, Brig. Gen. Eliseo T. Rasco said a total of 9,370 policemen and soldiers will secure the entire region.

Rasco said 6,524 PRO12 personnel and 2,846 members of the Armed Forces were sent-off  last week to their respective posts in different parts of South Cotabato, Cotabato City, Sultan Kudarat, Sarangani and General Santos City or SOCCSKSARGEN region as part of the massive security preparations for the May 13 elections.