CAMP SALIPADA PENDATUN, Maguindanao (MindaNews / 13 December) — The chief of the Philippine National Police (PNP) has recommended the creation of Police Special Units (PSUs) in the run-up to the May 9, 2016 synchronized elections, to handle Lanao del Sur and Maguindanao, which have been identified as areas of immediate concern.
In a conference during his visit here on Friday, PNP Director General Ricardo Marquez said intense political rivalries, which some politicians use to tap private armed groups (PAG’s), the use of gun for hire individuals and proliferation of loose firearms are the parameters for the creation of PSUs in the two provinces in the five-province Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao
According to Marquez, among the PAGs identified by the PNP, ARMM has the most number. “It means additional of troops deployed, resources and logistics will be poured as election comes near,” he said.
The PSUs shall be composed of members of the Regional Public Safety Battalion and intelligence units, he said.
The PNP has also prepared for mediation teams to ease tension between warring political clans during the campaign and election.
He said they want to ensure that plans and programs for the election are properly disseminated and implemented on the ground.
In the case of these two ARMM provinces, the police will look into their best practices, learn from the shortcomings in the past election experience and ensure early preparations together with the Comission on Elections (Comelec).
Marquez explained that as much as possible he doesn’t want policemen to serve as members of the Board of Election Inspectors (BEI) as there are more things the police can do for security measures during election time.
He said he will allow ground commanders to do the threat assessment unlike previous practices where they relied on institutional knowledge.
“There were some gaps in 2013 as some areas that we have included in 15 priority provinces, we found out later, were not supposed to be there, so we asked all the commanders in the ground to do the threat assessment,” he said.
Marquez also appealed for more civilian cooperation as threat groups like the Abu Sayyaf, Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters and other lawless group will possibly take advantage by conducting sabotage operations during the election period.
He added they will double their efforts to protect critical infrastructure like power lines which are crucial in computerized polls.
The night before Marquez’ visit, a power relay pylon was toppled in Aleosan, North Cotabato causing a 15-hour power outage in neighboring areas.
Tower 68 of the National Grid Corporation of the Philippines in Barangay Pagangan in Aleosan town was toppled by unidentified men who strapped explosives on its four folumns and detonated them from a distance using mobile phones. (Ferdinandh B. Cabrera / MindaNews)