R-12 police urged to forge peace pacts among barangay, SK poll bets

GENERAL SANTOS CITY (MindaNews/12 October) – The Police Regional Office (PRO) 12 directed all its units Tuesday to work for the immediate signing of peace covenants among barangay and Sangguniang Kabataan (SK) candidates in various parts of the region to ensure a smooth and orderly conduct of the upcoming October 25 elections in the area.

Chief Supt. Gil Meneses, Region 12 police director, said he specifically ordered all provincial, city, and municipal police chiefs in Region 12 or Southwestern Mindanao to gather all candidates in their respective areas of responsibility and make them commit to “honest, orderly and peaceful” barangay and SK elections.

He said they should make sure that all candidates will sign peace covenants among themselves, the Commission on Elections (Comelec) and local law enforcement units and that they will strictly abide by all election regulations, especially during the campaign period.

Meneses particularly cited the provisions of Republic Act 9006 or the Fair Election Practices Act and the Omnibus Election Code.

“The forging of the peace covenants are very important as they will mainly remind our candidates of their duties and responsibilities as law-abiding citizens and aspiring public servants,” he said.

The Comelec earlier set the campaign period for the barangay and SK elections on October 14 to 23.

It implemented a nationwide firearms ban starting last September 25 as part of the 45-day election period. The total gun ban, which was provided for in Comelec Resolution No. 9028, will end on November 10.

Aside from facilitating the signing of the peace covenants, Meneses said he directed all police offices and station chiefs in the region to coordinate with the Comelec and counterparts from the Armed Forces of the Philippines for the implementation of their election security plans.

He said a security plan covers the deployment of personnel in all polling places before and during the scheduled elections to secure election personnel and assist in the transport of various election paraphernalia.

The police official said he directed the setting up of additional checkpoints and the deployment of augmentation personnel from the Regional Public Safety Battalion and the PRO 12 to several parts of the region that were classified as election watchlist areas or areas of concern.

Region 12 covers the provinces of South Cotabato, Sultan Kudarat, Sarangani, North Cotabato and the cities of General Santos, Koronadal, Tacurong, Cotabato and Kidapawan.

“We’re closely watching the same areas that recorded election-related incidents during the past elections because of the heated political rivalries and the presence of armed groups,” Meneses said.

During the May national and local elections, PRO 12 identified at least 28 municipalities and two cities in the region as areas of concern or election watchlist areas. (Allen V. Estabillo/MindaNews)