Police, military in Davao gear up to secure polls

DAVAO CITY (MindaNews / 28 April) – The police and the military have intensified their security measures to avert any election-related violence, officials said on Friday.

Though no election-related violence has been reported yet in the region, police and military officials said they have prepared rapid deployment forces to secure the May 13 polls.

Chief Supt. Jaime Morente, head of Police Regional Office-XI, told reporters that some companies of the Regional Public Safety Battalion have been designated as rapid deployment forces.

Morente added that 90 percent of the police force in the region have been mobilized to beef up security measures as the Precinct Count Optical Scan (PCOS) machines are already sent out to municipal precincts.

Like the police, the Army has also organized quick reaction forces (QRFs) in every battalion, according to Major Gen. Ariel Bernardo, commander of the 10th Infantry Division.

Every battalion has a platoon-sized QRF while a brigade has company-sized, he added.

The QRFs, the military official said, are highly mobile units that can respond to any untoward situations in the field.

Aside from the QRFs, Bernardo added that the military has already started its clearing operations in preparation for the elections.

“We are currently conducting area security, especially in critical areas in the region so that the PCOS machines will be transported safely,” he said.

This movement of troops, he revealed, resulted in encounters, among them the clash with New People’s Army (NPA) rebels in Barangay Katipunan, Nabunturan, Compostela Valley province last Thursday. The clash left an NPA rebel dead and another wounded, who was captured by elements of the Army’s 66th Infantry Battalion.

Moreover, Bernardo said that 80 percent of the 10ID’s troops, or around 5,000 soldiers, have already been deployed in different areas to help secure the elections. This includes the division’s newly graduated soldiers, he added.

He also disclosed that the Army has setup the Division Election Monitoring and Action Center and the Joint Security Command Center (JSCC).

Morente said the police has also set up random checkpoints in the different parts of the region to ensure the implementation of the gun ban imposed by the Commission on Elections.

The police, he said, also formed the Special Operations Task Group as part of its pre-election measures.

Bernardo said they have suspended all training activities so that all their manpower could be deployed to help secure the polls.