GENERAL SANTOS CITY (MindaNews / 1 April) – Police authorities in Region 12 or Southwestern Mindanao have sustained the area’s heightened alert status in connection with the start of the campaign period for local candidates in the May 13 midterm national and local elections.
Chief Supt. Charles Calima Jr., Region 12 police director, said he has directed all police units in the region to remain on high alert and intensify their security operations to ensure smooth and orderly campaigning for all local candidates.
He said they have deployed personnel in strategic parts of the province to ensure the security of the planned campaign sorties of the candidates.
Region 12 comprises the provinces of South Cotabato, Sultan Kudarat, Sarangani, North Cotabato as well as the cities of General Santos, Koronadal, Tacurong, Kidapawan and Cotabato.
The Police Regional Office 12 earlier raised the region’s alert status as part of the implementation of operation plan summer vacation or Oplan Sumvac.
The security plan covered last week’s observance of Lenten activities, the ongoing summer vacation and activities related to the upcoming elections.
Local campaign activities in the region took off last Saturday with various political camps holding launching campaign rallies and sorties.
In Sarangani Province, re-electionist Rep. Emmanuel Pacquiao, of the People’s Champ Movement-United Nationalist Alliance (PCM-UNA), led the opening salvo of his slate in a big rally on Saturday in vote-rich Malungon town.
Pacquiao was joined by his wife Jinkee, who is running for vice governor, and their gubernatorial candidate, incumbent Vice Gov. Steve Chiongbian-Solon.
Pacquiao, who is seeking a second term at the House of Representatives, and Solon were running unopposed but Jinkee is up against two other aspirants.
Liberal Party (LP) vice gubernatorial bet and outgoing board member Eleonor Saguiguit opened
her campaign sorties in the capital town of Alabel last Saturday while independent aspirant Jose Villamor has set his campaign activities starting Monday.
In this city, the administration backed LP-Achievers with Integrity Movement coalition led by re-electionists Mayor Darlene Antonino-Custodio and South Cotabato (1st District) Rep. Pedro Acharon Jr. opened their campaign with a big rally at the oval plaza grounds on Sunday afternoon.
The PCM-UNA slate led by mayoral aspirant, top councilor Ronnel Rivera, re-electionist Vice Mayor Shirlyn Banas-Nograles and South Cotabato’s first district congressional bet Roel Pacquiao started their campaign sorties last Saturday.
In South Cotabato province, the provincial slates of the LP-Nationalist People’s Coalition (NPC) as well as UNA opened their campaign sorties on Monday, heeding an earlier request from Marbel Diocese Bishop Dinualdo Gutierrez to spare the Holy Week of political or campaign-related activities.
The LP-NPC coalition is led by South Cotabato (2nd District) Rep. Daisy Avance-Fuentes, who is running for governor, while the UNA slate is headed by re-electionist Gov. Arthur Pingoy Jr.
Senior Supt. Romeo Ver, South Cotabato police director, said they expect the local campaign activities to be peaceful and orderly.
“The politicians here are known professionals so we don’t foresee any problem with regards to their campaigning,” he said.
Ver said they are ready to provide security to any candidate or political camp in case they make such request for their campaign sorties.
He assured that they will remain neutral and exercise their mandates fairly in all activities pertaining to the elections. (Allen V. Estabillo / MindaNews)