COTABATO CITY (MindaNews / 22 Dec) – Amid the lack of policemen after the pullout of additional troops from the regional headquarters in Region 12, and the number of troops who went on vacation for the yuletide season, the city government has filed a motion urging the use of barangay tanods as force multipliers.
During the peace and order council meeting held Monday headed by Mayor Japal Guaini Jr. and attended by city officials and the security sector, a motion was passed to tap the barangay security force to augment security after the pullout of 125 policemen temporarily deployed in the city until the celebration of the recently concluded Shariff Kabunsuan Festival.
Guaini admitted the city is on red alert after receiving information that threat groups might strike anytime after sensing that only a few policemen are visible in the city.
“Cotabato City is on red alert status. We received information some groups make take advantage in conducting animosity anytime, and since we have not yet receive the request of another batch of police force to fill the gap in security, we will tap our village security forces like the BPAT [Barangay Peacekeeping Action Team]”, Guaini said in a media interview.
The city has a police force of about 400 for its 271,000 population. City officials said they need 150 more.
Asked if using tanods means the latter bringing guns, Senior Supt. Raul Supiter, city police director said they have to follow the law, and thus only allow the tanods to carry firearms if they have the papers to carry one, or if they are allowed by the state of the Commission on Elections.
A barangay official who attended the meeting said they are worried to let their barangay tanods do the patrolling yet lame and helpless as notorious criminals are using high-powered firearms. He raised the example of the death of kagawad Misuari Karim of Barangay Bagua Mother here., who was ambushed by armed men using high-powered firearms.