GENERAL SANTOS CITY (MindaNews / 9 May) – Various areas in Mindanao have reported deployment of additional policemen and soldiers to help secure the ballot on election day.
In this city, Supt. Rolly Octavio, deputy city police director for operations, said that 500 policemen will be deployed in various parts of the city starting this weekend. He added that the move was based on the full personnel deployment directed by Philippine National Police (PNP) Director General Alan Purisima to all police units in connection with the upcoming polls.
In Butuan, Supt. Martin Gamba, public information officer of Police Regional Office 13, reported that an additional 400 police personnel have been added to the existing police force in the five provinces of Caraga Region to help out in securing the elections.
In Zamboanga City, Senior Supt. Edwin de Ocampo, the city police officer-in-charge, said 850 combined forces of policemen, soldiers and militiamen have been deployed to secure polling centers there.
Octavio said Purisima’s directive includes the placement of the entire area to full alert status to ensure maximum security during the elections.
“We’ve adopted a deployment strategy to facilitate our full visibility, especially in the polling centers and other public areas,” the official said. Octavio said the city police office, which operates eight community precincts, has a total manpower strength of 560.
He said a team of policemen were also assigned to specifically secure the deployment and retrieval of the 298 precinct count optical scan or PCOS machines that will be used during the polls.
“Aside from our fixed detachments, we will put up additional checkpoints along major entry and exit points, and in some remote areas of the city,” he added.
Octavio said the PNP central office has sent a team from the Special Action Force while the Police Regional Office (PRO) 12 has assigned additional police trainees to the city to augment the area’s security. Another augmentation was also committed by the Philippine Army-led Joint Task Force GenSan, he added.
For Caraga, Gamba said they started deploying augmentation forces all over the region forces last Monday, adding to the existing 4,200 police force.
He said the additional forces have been directed to provide election personnel security and the security of the ballots, PCOS machines and other election paraphernalia, and the voting populace on election day.
“We are confident that the election here in Caraga will be peaceful,” said Chief Supt. Getulio Napenas, regional police director. “Our main concern now are the hard-to-reach barangays, that’s why we have coordinated with the Armed Forces to help us secure far-flung areas,” he added.
Lawyer Renault Macarambon, assistant regional director of the Commission on Elections, said that so far everything is doing well in Caraga. “Both the PNP and the Army have assured us on the security preparations for the election. And we are prepared if indeed certain areas will need additional attention. We have additional personnel backed by personnel from the police and the Army,” he added.
De Ocampo said the additional 850 troops comprise of 446 policemen and 404 troops (141 soldiers and 263 militiamen) from the military’s Task Force Zamboanga.
He said seven personnel will be assigned in each of the polling centers, with a ratio of four policemen and three soldiers in barangays within city limits. In far-flung barangays, the ratio will be five soldiers and militiamen to two policemen. (Allen V. Estabillo and Erwin Mascariñas, with reports)