Police places entire SouthCot on heightened alert during festival

GENERAL SANTOS CITY (MindaNews / 8 July) – Police authorities placed the entire South Cotabato province under heightened alert in connection with its 49th foundation anniversary celebration and 16th T’nalak Festival that will formally open on Thursday.

Sr. Supt. Jose Briones Jr., South Cotabato police director, said all police units within the province’s towns and lone city are currently on full alert to ensure the smooth and peaceful conduct of the 10-day festivity, which is slated until July 18.

He said they crafted a comprehensive security plan for the festivities, which will mainly be centered in Koronadal City.

The official said they have assigned police teams to secure all festival venues, public convergence sites and other vital areas within the province.

He said they have also stepped up their intelligence operations and monitoring within and outside the province.

“We’re not only focusing on the festivities but on outside developments as well that might have implications on the local and national scene,” he said in a press conference.

Based on their security plan, Briones said policemen were designated as the main force for the security deployment.

He said elements from the Army’s 27th Infantry Battalion will serve as the second ring of security or support force.

They also enlisted the services of local civil security personnel and barangay police teams as force multipliers, he said.

Briones said that in support of the festivities, the Police Regional Office 12 has sent 60 police personnel from the Regional Public Safety Battalion (RPSB) to augment their security operations.

He said the RPSB operatives, which will help secure key festival venues or sites, will be deployed starting Wednesday.

Romeo Rufino, South Cotabato Civil Security Unit (CSU) chief, said they have established 14 fixed security command posts in various festival venues.

He said they have assigned 115 CSU personnel to man the posts on 24-hour basis until the culmination of the festivity.

Rufino, who heads the festival’s security committee, said they also prepared a security plan for each of the lined up activities.

He said the plan included some lessons that they learned and corrected in the conduct of the previous festivities.

“Our main thrust is the security of the spectators and the organizers. We’re hoping that with the implementation of the security plan, there will be no untoward incident that will happen during the entire celebration,” he added.