R-12 police intensifies operations for Oct. 25 polls

GENERAL SANTOS CITY (MindaNews/21 Oct) – Police personnel in Region 12 or Southwestern Mindanao have intensified their security operations in various parts of the region to avert any possible disruptions or the escalation of violence in the run-up to the October 25 Barangay and Sangguniang Kabataan (SK) elections.

Chief Supt. Gil Meneses, Region 12 police director, said Thursday he directed all police units in the region to remain on heightened alert and closely monitor the ongoing election-related activities in areas identified as possible hotspots or listed as election watchlist areas in the remaining days of the campaign period.

“As of today, we have not recorded any major election-related incident in the region but we’re not letting our guards down so as not to compromise our security situation,” he said.

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

Meneses said he specifically ordered local police units to monitor the activities of candidates and possible movements of armed elements that may disrupt the conduct of Monday’s polls.

The police official said they foresee the situation to heat up on the last day of the campaign period on Saturday until the election day.

But Meneses said they expect all candidates to abide by the regulations set by the Commission on Elections (Comelec) and honor the peace covenants that they have signed.

On Wednesday, the police official led a prayer rally and the signing of the peace covenant by Barangay and SK candidates in the city.

However, the city Comelec office’s records showed that only 446 out of the 1,403 official Barangay and SK candidates from the area showed up and signed the peace covenant.

The peace covenant, which was endorsed by the Comelec, Philippine National Police and the Armed Forces of the Philippines, enjoined Barangay and SK candidates to strictly follow the election rules and regulations, especially the provisions of the Fair Elections Act.

The covenant’s signatories specifically agreed not to resort to vote-buying, threaten or instill fear among voters as well as denounce and avoid all forms of violence in pursuing their candidacies.

“I’m hoping that our candidates will be true to themselves and be examples to our voters in terms of abiding with our laws. I’m also urging our voters to take advantage of the upcoming elections and use it as a way for our country to further move forward,” Meneses said.

The police official reminded local candidates to restrain their supporters from resorting to violence or any acts that may affect the honest, orderly and peaceful conduct of Monday’s elections. (Allen V. Estabillo / MindaNews)