Thousands of cops deployed for barangay, SK elections 2018
This story will be updated as reports from other areas come in.
MANILA, Philippines – Thousands of police will be deployed all over the country for the barangay and Sangguniang Kabataan (SK) elections on Monday, May 14.
Out of more than 42,000 barangays nationwide, 7,915 have been labeled by the government as election hot spots as of May 6. (READ: 3 injured in Davao City violence ahead of barangay polls)
More than one million Filipinos filed their certificates of candidacy nationwide. About 684,785 candidates are running for barangay seats, while 386,206 are running for SK posts.
In Aklan, around 827 cops and soldiers were tasked to secure 1,137 polling precincts.
Senior Superintendent Jesus Cambay Jr said the towns of Lezo, Malinao, Banga and Buruanga are being closely monitored due to intense political rivalries in the past.
"We don't take any chances. We have police forces to secure the areas, even though there are barangays with no opposing candidates," he said after the send-off rites for the security forces at Camp Pastor Martelino in Kalibo, Aklan on Friday, May 11.
Some 499,734 registered voters are expected to troop to the polls in Aklan. Of the registered voters, there are 138,380 voters for the SK elections.
In Cagayan Valley, regional police director Chief Superintendent Jose Mario Espino is sending 600 additional cops to augment police assigned to polling precincts.
Some 37 barangays in the region were placed on a watchlist due to past election violence, a tense political situation, and the presence of private armed groups.
"We will prioritize to deploy more policemen to places where there were election-related incidents in the past elections," Espino said.
The Philippine Army's 5th Infantry Division based in Isabela also deployed more soldiers to some areas in Cagayan with reported rebel sightings.
"The series of skirmishes between the 17th [Infantry Battalion] troopers and the [rebels] confirmed the regrouping of the terrorist group in Zinundungan Valley. That is what we are preventing, the launching of their plans against the people, local officials, and our troops in connection with the upcoming election," Major General Perfecto Rimando Jr, the division commander, said in a statement.
Days earlier, 5 government troopers were reportedly wounded after a clash with suspected members of the New People's Army (NPA) in Sto Niño town in Cagayan. (READ: Army nabs 4 alleged communist rebels in Masbate)
In Negros Occidental, one of the Philippines' vote-rich provinces, around 3,000 cops are set to be deployed.
Out of that number, 517 will man the 45 voting centers of the provincial capital, Bacolod City. No election watchlist areas were identified in the city.
For the rest of Negros Occidental, provincial police director Senior Superintendent Rodolfo Castil Jr said more security forces were deployed to 80 barangays which are considered areas of concern.
Castil also said they are not ruling out possible attacks from communist rebels.
All police stations in the province also have designated quick reaction teams.
Negros Occidental has 2.431 million voters. There are 14,672 candidates for barangay positions and 8,876 for SK posts. – with reports from Boy Ryan B. Zabal, Raymon Dullana, & Marchel P. Espina / Rappler.com