NorthCot banning backpacks during Kalivungan Festival

KIDAPAWAN CITY (MindaNews/24 August)– Security forces in North Cotabato will ban the bringing of backpacks inside the capitol compound in Barangay Amas during the week-long Kalivungan Festival starting August 26 to September 1.

Joselito Aso, head of Kalivungan Festival’s security committee, said the ban on backpacks is part of their tightened security measures amid the spate of bombings in the province early this month.

Aso said they will put up a baggage counter at the gate of the capitol compound.

During the Provincial Peace and Order Council (PPOC) meeting at the capitol on Friday, Supt. Noel Kinazo, deputy provincial director, said policemen will be deployed in strategic areas of the city to avert any untoward incidents.

The tighter security measures will be put in place following the series of bombings that took place in the towns of Kabacan and Midsayap and in Cotabato City early this month.

Col. Norman Marcos Flores, commander of the 1002nd Infantry Brigade based in Sarangani, said that they are ready to send augmentation troops to help secure the various events during the festival.

The Army’s 1002nd Brigade is based in Malungon, Sarangani province but it has jurisdiction over the second district of North Cotabato, which comprises the towns of Arakan, Antipas, Tulunan, Makilala, President Roxas and Kidapawan City.

Brig. Gen. Ademar Tomaro, commander of the Army’s 602nd Brigade based in Carmen, said his troops will assist the police in securing other activities outside the capitol compound.

Among the activities that will be held outside the capitol compound are Kavurunan Festival and Banca race in Carmen, Sepa sa Manggis and Kulintangan Extravaganza in Pikit, Water Tubing race in Alamada and motocross race in Magpet.

Some of the activities slated inside the capitol compound are ball games, traditional games, trade fair, cooking contest and the street dancing competition on September 1, the province’s 99th foundation anniversary.

Dulia Sultan, an ex-officio member of the Sangguniang Panlalawigan, suggested the deployment of police escorts to the contingents that will join the street dancing competition.

“Baka masingitan, mahirap na. Mabuti ng doon pa lang mismo sa pinanggalingan nila, ma check na at masamahan sila papunta dito sa capitol (It’s better to take precautions. They should be given security escorts all the way to the capitol),” said Sultan, who is also the chair of the Association of Barangay Captains in Pikit.

Josephine Abellana, Public Affairs, Assistance, Tourism and Sports Development Division officer-in-charge, said they have already recorded the plate numbers of the vehicles that will transport the participants.

The plate numbers have already been submitted to the security units manning the gate, Abellana added (Keith Bacongco / MindaNews)