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LOOK: Armed MILF allowed to register for 2019 polls in Lanao del Norte

COMPLACENT? Representative Khalid Dimaporo says cops allowed armed MILF men to register to vote without commotion. House of Representatives YouTube account screenshots

COMPLACENT? Representative Khalid Dimaporo says cops allowed armed MILF men to register to vote without commotion.

House of Representatives YouTube account screenshots

MANILA, Philippines – Were the Lanao del Norte cops being complacent?

On Monday, October 1, Lanao del Norte 1st District Representative Khalid Dimaporo showed photos of Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) combatants gathering inside an elementary school to participate in the special voters registration for the upcoming 2019 polls.

There is nothing irregular in the process as they are allowed to register in vote. Dimaporo even conceded that Mindanao has been more peaceful since the declaration of martial law after the Marawi siege.

The problem, as Dimaporo pointed out with photos flashed before the House of Representatives' session hall, was that they were allowed to register in combat overalls and while carrying firearms.

"When I was governor of Lanao del Norte, you do not allow the MILF to enter the province of Lanao del Norte if they are fully armed and in uniform," Dimaporo said as he interpellated the 2019 budget of the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) — the executive department which administratively oversees the national police force.

IN UNIFORM. An MILF combatant is allowed to register to vote in uniform complete with his armband.

IN UNIFORM. An MILF combatant is allowed to register to vote in uniform complete with his armband.

Cops even allowed the armed and dressed MILF men to take a photo with them. PHOTO OP. A local cop in a neon green vest stands as MILF men take a photo with him in the registration.

 According to Dimaporo, this would not have happened if there was substantial coordination of cops with the local government units. It has become difficult to do this, he said, because many local government officials lost their police powers—the ability to command and set the direction for local cops' strategy to keep public safety and order—since the declaration of martial law in Mindanao.

"If you take away the deputation powers, it is difficult to move. It's hard when you don't work, when you don't talk together. You don't establish a chain of command, and that's what's most important when it's on the ground," Dimaporo said in a mix of English and Filipino.

He also said that local cops need to be serious in their heightened alert level in Mindanao, especially since they have received a sizeable salary hike under President Rodrigo Duterte.

"I would just like to appeal that cases like these in the local level, you should show that you deserve that salary increase. Medyo masakit (It's quite painful) that when we work hard to keep the MILF at bay pero (but) here they come going to our elementary school, and our PNP is being, frankly, complacent," Dimaporo said.

In reply, the sponsor of the DILG's budget Nueva Vizcaya Representative Luisa Cuaresma said the DILG and the PNP will look into the matter. – Rappler.com

Rambo Talabong

Rambo Talabong covers security, crime, and the city of Manila for Rappler. He was chosen as a Jaime V. Ongpin Fellow in 2019 for his reporting on President Rodrigo Duterte’s war on drugs.

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