GENERAL SANTOS CITY (MindaNews / 21 Jan) – The Police Regional Office (PRO) 12 has placed the entire region under heightened alert in preparation for next month’s Sangguniang Kabataan (SK) elections.
Chief Supt. Lester Camba, Region 12 police director, said Wednesday they raised the area’s alert status to avert possible untoward incidents and ensure the peaceful and orderly conduct of the polls, which is scheduled on Feb. 21.
“We’re currently under heightened or red alert and this will continue until the end of the election period,” he said.
The Commission on Elections (Comelec) has set the start of the election period from Jan. 22 to March 2 or 30 days before the election day and 15 days thereafter.
Along with the start of the election period on Thursday, Camba said they will implement the firearms or gun ban throughout the region’s four provinces and five cities.
He said they have established joint checkpoints with the Comelec in various strategic areas to augment their regular patrols in entry and exit points of the area’s municipalities and cities.
Such move was set during the recent regional security coordinating conference called by Comelec Region 12 director Michael Abas.
Based on the regulations set by Comelec, Camba said all permits to carry firearms outside residence are cancelled during the duration of the gun ban.
He said all existing authority allowing security personnel or bodyguards of local politicians to carry firearms are also revoked.
In a statement, the Comelec said law enforcers and security personnel need to apply for the renewal of their certificates of authority and gun ban exemptions.
It said all exemptions issued in connection with the May 13, 2013 local and national midterm elections and Oct. 28, 2013 barangay elections are no longer valid.
Aside from the gun ban, Camba said they are currently waiting for additional directives from the Philippine National Police and the Comelec central office regarding prohibitions and specific actions related to the coming polls.
He said they expect the final directive to come out after the national coordinating conference for the SK elections on Feb. 1 or 2.
Camba said they are also preparing to “download” or deploy additional police personnel assigned at the regional headquarters to key city and municipal police offices in connection with the SK elections.
He said the deployment will mainly involve personnel from the PRO-12’s Regional Public Safety Battalion.