Police beefs up security in S. Kudarat hotspot

GENERAL SANTOS CITY (MindaNews / 24 Oct) – The Police Regional Office (PRO) 12 has deployed additional police personnel in various villages of Palimbang town in Sultan Kudarat province due to the possible occurrence of security problems in connection with the Oct. 28 barangay elections.

Chief Supt. Charles Calima Jr., Region 12 police director, said such move is part of the security plan that they laid out for the coastal municipality following its declaration as an area of concern for the upcoming polls.

He said the security situation in Palimbang, which has 40 barangays, is considered volatile due to the presence of armed groups in the area.

In the last three years, a number of armed clashes occurred in several villages of Palimbang due to a long-drawn land conflict.

Military officials had confirmed the presence in the area of a unit of the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters under a certain Udtog and Mod, who were tagged as the brains behind several attacks this year in civilian communities in Barangay Ned of Lake Sebu, South Cotabato.

Aside from Palimbang, the regional police has not identified any other areas of concern and election watch list areas or hotspot in the region.

On Wednesday, the Commission on Elections (Comelec), PRO 12 and local units of the Armed Forces of the Philippines laid down the region’s security plan for the barangay elections in a briefing here.

The meeting was joined by Philippine National Police (PNP) Deputy Director General Felipe Rojas Jr., who was tasked by PNP Director General Alan Purisima to review the security preparations in the region for the polls.

“We looked at how the deployment of police personnel and those from other units will be made to make sure that the elections on Monday will be peaceful,” Rojas told reporters.

As part of the area’s poll security plan, Calima said all police units in the area were mandated to maintain their visibility and strengthen the established security checkpoints.

He said they will continue to enforce the election firearms ban that already led to the arrest of 23 violators in the region.

Calima said they will establish police security assistance desks in all polling centers and provide security to Comelec personnel and teachers who will be serving as board of election tellers.

Lawyer Michael Abas, Comelec Region 12 director, said they are satisfied so far with the security preparations for Monday’s barangay elections.

“We’re really watching the situation on the ground because the dynamics of the campaigning are very personal,” he said.

Citing their observation, Abas said the barangay election is a “family affair” by nature.

“Meaning, those vying for positions could come from the same family and circle of friends,” the official added.