GENERAL SANTOS CITY (MindaNews / 11 Jan) – Authorities have not yet identified any potential hotspots or areas of concern in Region 12 (Soccsksargen) in connection with the May 9 local and national elections.
Lt. Col. Ma. Joyce Birrey, public information officer of the Police Regional Office-12, said they, along with the Armed Forces of the Philippines and the Commission on Elections (COMELEC), are still conducting assessment as of Tuesday for the identification of possible election areas of concern in the region.
She said they are closely monitoring the security situation in all 45 municipalities and four cities in the area, especially the potential threats related to the upcoming polls.
“But we’re lucky enough that we don’t have any election-related incident since the last quarter [of 2021],” she said in a phone interview.
In the 2019 local and national midterm elections, COMELEC-Region 12 identified four municipalities under the red category or election areas of grave concern.
Birrey did not name the concerned municipalities but said two of them were in Sultan Kudarat province and one each in Sarangani and North Cotabato.
She said 28 localities were under the orange category or areas of immediate concern and three under yellow or areas of concern.
Areas under the yellow category are those with a history of election-related violence and intense political rivalry, while those under orange have the same situation and also facing threats from domestic terrorists and other armed groups, she said.
Birrey noted that despite these assessments, the previous election period in the region turned out generally peaceful and orderly.
“We have not recorded any election-related violence in 2019 and hopefully the situation will be the same this year,” she said.
In line with the start of the election period on Sunday, the police official said the PRO-12 chief, Brig. Gen. Alexander Tagum, placed all police units in the region under full alert and maximized the deployment of personnel.
She said they have activated additional checkpoints in all municipalities and cities as mandated by COMELEC to ensure the proper implementation of the firearms ban.
In this city, at least 13 fixed checkpoints were activated in major streets and highways within the 26 barangays.
PRO-12 also deployed personnel from the Regional Mobile Force Battalion-12 to augment the security operations in various strategic areas, she said. (Allen V. Estabillo / MindaNews)