Comelec, police in R-12 start security prep for polls

GENERAL SANTOS CITY (MindaNews/08 January) — The Commission on Elections (Comelec) and the Police Regional Office 12 have started their security preparations for the scheduled May 13 midterm national and local elections.

Chief Supt. Alex Paul Monteagudo, Region 12 police director, said they are currently drawing up a comprehensive security plan for the conduct of the May elections in the region in coordination with Comelec-Region 12 and other law enforcement units in the area.

He said the Comelec regional office called for an initial security coordinating conference last month to set off their preparations for the upcoming elections.

Region 12, which is also known as the Soccsksargen Region, comprises the provinces of South Cotabato, Sultan Kudarat, Sarangani, North Cotabato and the cities of General Santos, Koronadal, Tacurong, Kidapawan and Cotabato.

“We’ve already set the initial strategies and we just need to lay down the mechanics and other necessary details of the plan,” the official said.

Monteagudo said their coordination with the Armed Forces of the Philippines and other security units in the region are currently proceeding smoothly.

“The (Philippine) Army committed their full cooperation for the coming elections and we’re continually enhancing our coordination mechanisms with them,” he said.

Monteagudo said none among the region’s four provinces and five cities had been listed as potential hotspots or areas of concern for the elections but said they are closely watching some localities due to the escalation of election-related violence.

He said they were specifically monitoring the political situation in Cotabato City and Sultan Kudarat province, which has started to heat up in the last several months.

In Cotabato City, two relatives of a barangay captain in Rosary Heights 5, Cotabato City were killed in an ambush three weeks ago.

A grenade explosion also rocked late last month the residence of Mayor Emilio Salamanca of President Quirino, Sultan Kudarat, along Malvar street in Tacurong City.

The attack, the second since November, was believed linked to the mayor’s reelection bid in the May polls.

“We’re presently beefing up our presence in these areas and we’re setting up some mechanisms to properly manage their security situation,” Monteagudo said.

The official said they’re hoping that the firearms ban, which was set by the Comelec from Jan.13 to June 12, would help avert the escalation of gun-related violence in the area in the run-up to the May 13 elections. (Allen V. Estabillo/MindaNews)