8,500 troops deployed in Eastern Mindanao to secure barangay, SK polls

DAVAO CITY (MindaNews / 13 May) —  The military’s Eastern Mindanao Command (EMC) has deployed a total of 8,500 troops to ensure a safe and a secure Barangay and Sangguniang Kabataan Elections on Monday.

In a statement on Sunday, Major Ezra Balagtey, Eastern Mindanao Command (Eastmincom) public information office head, said they are ready for Monday’s polls and that they have put the military’s floating and flying assets on alert status, to be deployed upon the deputization and order of the Commission on Elections (Comelec).

The EMC covers Davao Region (five provinces and six cities), Caraga (five provinces and six cities), parts of SOCCSKSARGEN (four provinces and five cities), and Northern Mindanao (five provinces and nine cities)

He said the military will also ensure the implementation of the Comprehensive and Integrated Security Plan of the Joint Security Coordinating Committee (JSCC) of the COMELEC, military, and police in the different provinces within Eastern Mindanao.

Balagtey added additional troops have been organized to form part of the Regional, Provincial, and Municipal Rapid Deployable Force and Quick Reaction Teams while Election Monitoring Action Centers have also been established that are inter-connected with COMELEC and police’s action centers as part of the security mechanism.

“With close coordination with the PNP and COMELEC, EMC is assuring the general public that the Command will be working for the safe and secure conduct of BSKE (Barangay and SK elections) in Eastern Mindanao,” he said.

In Davao Region, data from the Police Regional Office (PRO) 11 showed a total of 2,387 personnel were deployed to secure the conduct of the locals polls, most especially in 1,766 voting centers, of which 328 are in the PNP’s election election watchlist areas.

The region has a total of 1,162 barangays – Davao City (182 barangays), Davao del Norte (223 barangays), Davao del Sur (232 barangays), Davao Oriental (183 barangays), Davao Occidental (105), and Compostela Valley (237 barangays).

Comelec Resolution No. 10917, promulgated on September 14, 2017, prohibits the bearing, carrying, and transporting of firearms and other deadly weapons and the availment or engagement of the services of security personnel or bodyguards within the election period from April 14 to May 21, 2018.

“During the election period, no person shall bear, carry or transport firearms or other deadly weapons in public places, including any building, street, park, private vehicle or public conveyance, even if licensed to carry the same, unless authorized in writing by the Commission,” it said.

The resolution added that only “regular members of the Philippine National Police, the Armed Forces of the Philippines and other law enforcement agencies of the Government who are duly deputized in writing by the Commission for election duty may be authorized to carry and possess firearms during the election period.”

But it added, “when in the possession of firearms, the deputized law enforcement officer must be: in full uniform showing clearly and legibly his name, rank and serial number, which shall remain visible at all times, and in the actual performance of his election duty in the specific area designated by the Commission.” (Antonio L. Colina IV / MindaNews)