Police secure Comelec offices in South Cotabato

South Cotabato map courtesy of Google Maps

GENERAL SANTOS CITY (MindaNews / 1 October) – More police personnel were deployed in strategic areas in South Cotabato province on Friday in line with the start of the filing of certificates of candidacy (COC) for the 2022 elections.

Col. Jemuel Siason, South Cotabato police director, said they assigned teams to secure Commission on Elections (Comelec) offices in the province’s 10 towns and lone city as well as other public convergence areas.

“This is to maintain and ensure peace and order, and the smooth filing of COCs,” he said in a radio interview.

The police official said they coordinated the fresh deployment with the Comelec provincial office and the local government units.

On Thursday, he said their units conducted simulation exercises on possible violent and other incidents that might happen during the COC filing, which will end on Oct. 8.

Siason said they have not received any intelligence information so far regarding threats from local terrorist groups and other elements related to the conduct of the election-related activities.

But he said they have expanded their security and intelligence operations to avert any kind of disruption and moves by New People’s Army units to extort from local politicians.

“It’s a wait-and-see for us right now. These groups usually start their move when the candidates are known and when the campaign period is closing in,” he said.

He advised local politicians and other concerned residents to immediately report such activities so they can properly conduct verify, investigate, and possibly file charges against the suspects.

As to the election “areas of concern” or hotspots, Siason said the Comelec has not yet identified any area in the province but noted that they regularly conduct security assessments on the matter.

He said the provincial police office has been also working with the Armed Forces of the Philippines units in the area for the security preparations.

In terms of private armed groups, the official said joint security units already dismantled the lone documented group in the province several years ago and they have not monitored any other existing unit in the area.

“But we are not taking this for granted because we’re still in the COC filing. We have prepared preemptive measures to avert any possible movement from these lawless groups,” he added. (MindaNews)