GENERAL SANTOS CITY (MindaNews/18 April) – All police units in Region 12 or Southwestern Mindanao have been placed under full red alert to ensure the area’s security during the entire Holy Week.
Chief Supt. Benjardi Mantele, Region 12 police director, said Monday they tightened security in key areas of the region, especially in public transport terminals, airports and seaports and other vital installations to preempt violence.
He said they deployed additional personnel in Churches, shrines and other areas where the Holy Week activities in the region are mainly concentrated.
“We’re currently on full deployment and I directed all police units to implement round-the-clock visibility and security patrols within their areas of responsibility,” Mantele said.
The police official said the security measures were part of the Holy Week security plan or the Oplan Semana Santa that took effect over the weekend in the region.
Region 12 covers the provinces of South Cotabato, Sultan Kudarat, Sarangani, North Cotabato and the cities of General Santos, Koronadal, Tacurong, Kidapawan and Cotabato.
In South Cotabato, provincial police director Senior Supt. Nilo Wong said he assigned several police teams to secure the main Catholic and other Christian churches in the province, especially during their scheduled activities in observance of the Holy Week.
He said their operations are mainly focused in Koronadal City and the municipalities of Polomolok and Surallah, which are presently the province’s top three most populated areas.
Aside from securing local churches and the Holy Week activities, he said they launched regular security and visibility patrols in residential subdivisions and key commercial areas to prevent robberies and related incidents.
Wong said they opened additional community police action centers or compact and checkpoints along national highways to assist local travelers as well as monitor possible movements by criminal and terror groups.
He said they suspended the applications for leave and other related breaks of all policemen in the province during the entire Holy Week.
“We established four major control points in the province that would serve as bases of our police reaction teams,” he said.
He said the province’s reaction teams were recently augmented by the provincial government of South Cotabato with at least 12 motorcycles to improve their mobility, especially during emergency operations.
Meantime, Mantele said they intensified their intelligence monitoring against possible movements by New People’s Army (NPA) rebels, who were tagged as behind the abduction of two soldiers and a civilian last Thursday in President Roxas town in North Cotabato.
He directed the observance of full security measures in all police stations and checkpoints, especially those located in remote areas, in anticipation of possible attacks by NPA rebels.
Corporal Delfin Sarocam and Private First Class Jayson Valenzuela, both members of the 57th Infantry Battalion, and former Barangay Datu Puas Inda councilor Eliory Lastimosa were on their way to a dialogue with residents of Sitio Dalinding in barangay Datu Puas Inda in President Roxas when they were stopped and forcibly taken by the rebels.
They were believed to have been taken to a rebel camp either in Arakan or Antipas towns in North Cotabato. (Allen V. Estabillo/MindaNews)