GENERAL SANTOS CITY (MindaNews/15 October)– The Police Regional Office 12 has approved the assignment of 50 additional policemen to South Cotabato province to augment the area’s security pool for the Oct. 28 barangay elections.
Supt. James Gulmatico, South Cotabato deputy provincial police director for administration, said the fresh deployment was based on a request that they earlier submitted to the regional police office in preparation for the upcoming polls.
“The 50 additional policemen will complete our deployment requirement for the elections,” he said in a media forum.
Gulmatico said the additional policemen, who will come from the Regional Public Safety Battalion, will be deployed in the province a week before the elections.
He said they will be assigned to assist the mobile security teams of each of the province’s 10 municipal and lone city police stations.
“As in the last May election, we will also assign a minimum of two policemen in every polling center,” he said.
The official said they will deploy their personnel to polling centers a day before the barangay elections on Oct. 28.
As of Monday, Gulmatico said all police units in the area are already on full alert as part of their poll security preparations.
“We will sustain that alert status after the end of the election period,” he said.
Policemen are not allowed to go on leave or file leaves of absence when their areas are under the full alert status.
The Philippine National Police central office has set the same policy for all police units in the May 13 local and national midterm elections.
The South Cotabato police earlier “cleared” the province of any potential watchlist area or hotspot for the barangay elections.
Gulmatico said their assessment showed that the area’s peace order situation has remained relatively stable and they have not monitored any major security threat that might disrupt the conduct of the polls.
He said the province has also remained clear in terms of violent incidents that might be related to the upcoming elections.
According to the Comelec, the “areas of concern” are localities wherein poll-related rivalries have started to heat up but are still considered manageable in terms of their overall peace and order situation.
Those under the election watchlist or hotspot category comprise areas that were already considered for placement or declaration under Comelec control due to the possible escalation of election-related violence. (MindaNews)