GENERAL SANTOS CITY (MindaNews/28 October) — Police officers here and in the neighboring areas have placed all their units on full alert in preparation for the observance of the All Saints Day and All Soul’s Day. Senior Supt. Cedric Train, city police director, said security has been tightened in key areas of the city, especially in public transport terminals, cemeteries and major highways, to ensure a peaceful and orderly observance on Nov.1 and 2.
In Cagayan de Oro City, some 400 police officers will be deployed to the city’s nine cemeteries for the All Saints and All Souls commemoration. Sr. Supt. Gerardo Rosales, city police chief said checkpoints have been installed in the city’s entry and exit points in Kinasanghan, Barangay Iponan in the west, Barangay Puerto in the east and Barangay Lumbia in the north.
In Genral Santos City, Train said the elevation of the area’s alert status, which started at 6 pm Thursday, was part of the nationwide implementation of the Philippine National Police’s Oplan Kaluluwa 2011.
“We’re now on full deployment and all our units are mandated to maintain full visibility within their areas of responsibility until the holidays are over,” he said.
Under a full alert status, all police personnel are mandated to report for duty and all leaves of absence and days off are cancelled.
Train said they have dispatched patrol teams to secure the city’s five cemeteries.
He said they also tapped the village watchmen or Barangay Tanods and civilian volunteers to help secure the public cemeteries in Barangays Uhaw, Tinagacan, Bawing and Mabuhay as well as private memorial park, Forest Lake in Barangay Apopong.
Train said the Philippine Army-led Joint Task Force GenSan has also committed to deploy a platoon of soldiers to help secure the cemeteries and transport terminals.
Train assigned some personnel to secure and assist in directing traffic along the city’s main streets and highways.
City Administrator Jose Mariano Gonzales said they have prepared a comprehensive traffic plan for the Nov. 1 and 2 holidays, to help avert the usual traffic congestion in the roads going to and from the cemeteries.
He said the local government has also directed the city police to strictly observe and monitor the prohibition on the bringing of bladed weapons and liquor within the premises of the cemeteries.
“We will be making rounds during the All Saints Day and All Soul’s Day to make sure that all the regulations and prohibitions set by the city government would be properly enforced,” Gonzales said.
He said the local government will also establish assistance desks at the cemeteries, highways and terminals that would be manned by personnel from the city police, Army and the local Philippine Red Cross volunteers.
In nearby South Cotabato province, police officials also directed the establishment of additional checkpoints in cemeteries, terminals and highways as part of the Oplan Kaluluwa 2011.
Supt. Jemuel Siason, operations chief of the South Cotabato Provincial Police Office, said they directed the province’s police units to observe round-the-clock operations during the holidays.
He said Senior Supt. Randolph Delfin, South Cotabato police director, will conduct regular visits in all police stations within the province’s 10 towns and lone city to make sure that all the necessary security arrangements are set in place.
Siason said the visits will be done randomly every 8pm, 12 midnight and at 8am.
In Cagayan de Oro City, Rosales said that aside from installing police assistance booths in the cemeteries, they will also provide security details at the city’s bus terminals, seaports and airport.
“We are not focusing only on the cemeteries. We are also preparing for the expected increased entry of people in the city,” he said.
He added they have been “monitoring what has been happening in the neighboring cities and region.”
Rosales assured they have not received any intelligence report of any threat. “As far as Cagayan de Oro City is concerned, we have nothing to worry about,” he said.
Maj. Eugene Julio Osias IV, spokesperson of the Army’s 4th Infantry Division in Cagayan de Oro City, said the Joint Peace and Security Coordinating Council (JPSCC) in the region has already met for the security preparations.
Osias said they have already deployed their K9 units and Explosives and Ordnance Division personnel to complement the police officers at “places where people usually congregate during this season like the malls, cemeteries, bus stations, seaports and airport.”
“We have not received reports of any threat within the region but we are prepared for any eventuality. We can respond anywhere within the city limits within 10 minutes,” he said. (Allen V. Estabillo and Cong Corrales/MindaNews)