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BASILAN, Philippines – The Army deployed around 300 additional soldiers to beef up security in Basilan province ahead of the barangay and Sangguniang Kabataan (SK) elections.
At least seven towns in Basilan are among places categorized as “red” by the police in the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM).
A red category designates an area of grave concern due to heightened political rivalries, with the potential for violence to erupt at any time.
In late August, the Philippine National Police (PNP) in the BARMM also identified eight red category areas, including seven towns in Lanao del Sur and two in Maguindanao del Norte.
The troops arrived at the port of Lamitan City from Sulu around noon on Sunday, October 15.
Colonel Frederick Sales, deputy commander of the Army’s 101st Brigade, said the soldiers were from the 111th and 112th Division reconnaissance companies under the 8th Field Artillery Battalion in Sulu.
He said the augmentation force would be deployed to different Army battalions in Basilan to help secure the barangay and SK elections on October 30.
Basilan Governor Jim Salliman-Hataman welcomed the arrival of more soldiers, as they would strengthen efforts to ensure the upcoming elections are peaceful and orderly.
The Army’s 11th Infantry Division has established Task Force Orion, led by Major General Ignatius Patrimonio, to intensify the elections’ gun ban and work towards making the elections peaceful, honest, and orderly in the province.
Throughout the BARMM, the Commission on Elections (Comelec) has identified 85 places in the BARMM, including Basilan, as areas of concern, out of a total of 2,732 barangays, including 63 in the Special Geographic Area (SGA) in Cotabato province.
The SGA refers to the 63 barangays in Soccsksargen region’s Cotabato province that voted to be included in the BARMM during a plebiscite in 2019.
At least 30 towns and 10 barangays in the BARMM’s SGA have been designated by the police as high-risk areas where violence is likely to occur during the upcoming grassroots elections. – Rappler.com