PARANG, Maguindanao (MindaNews/11 May) – Some 400 police personnel who have been trained to be members of the Board of Election Inspectors (BEI) and provide additional security force, were deployed Saturday to their assignments in Lanao del Sur.
On Sunday, the all-women provisional company set up to help ensure there is no failure of elections in Lanao del Sur will be deployed as well.
At the send-off rites for the trained police poll inspectors on Saturday morning, Chief Superintendent Noel Delos Reyes, regional police chief of the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) had prayers recited for both Muslim and Christian personnel, as he encouraged them to leave a legacy of “safe and successful” election, where the people’s voices “will really be heard.”
Speaking in Pilipino, Delos Reyes said, “Our responsibility in the coming elections is to ensure our citizens can vote and they can vote freely, without fear. We, policemen in the ARMM, must be part of the solution and not part of the problem.”
The ARMM has been criticized in past elections as the “cheating capital in the country.”
He said his office will go after policemen who will allow themselves to be instruments of evi.
At least 400 personnel from Regions 7 (Central Visayas) and 10 (Northern Mindanao) have been trained as special BEI’s to serve in the ARMM.
Two hundred of them were deployed to the towns where police poll inspectors are needed, while the remaining 200 are on call at the regional headquarters, for immediate deployment should the teacher-members of the BEI be unable to perform their tasks due to intimidation or harassment.
The 196-all women police contingent, set up precisely to respond to poll disturbances involving women supporters of politicians, will be deployed to Lanao del Sur Sunday.
In an interview earlier this month, Delos Reys told MindaNews that the Philippine National Police in the ARMM had come up with creative ways to help ensure there is no failure of election, including deploying an all-women provisional company to Lanao del Sur.
“One of the innovations we’re doing right now, based on past experiences, is to come up with a provisional all-female company,” delos Reyes said.
He said based on experiences in previous elections, some women were reported to have started the trouble that eventually led to the declaration of a failure of election in their areas.
“Eh hindi mo naman pwedeng hawakan yung babae, bawal yan (But [if you’re a male policeman], you cannot touch the women, that’s prohibited) so we are coming up with a provisional all-female company,” he explained. (Ferdinandh B. Cabrera/MindaNews)