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GENERAL SANTOS, Philippines – The police regional office in the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM) has asked Camp Crame to send it reinforcement ahead of the barangay and Sangguniang Kabataan (SK) elections in October.
This request comes as the police in the Muslim-majority region identified nearly a thousand villages in the BARMM as election areas of concern.
Brigadier General Allan Nobleza, the police director in BARMM, told local broadcaster DXMS Radyo Bida on Thursday, September 21, that they have formally requested for an additional 768 police officers to reinforce the existing police personnel in the region.
He said they plan to deploy them to the provinces of Lanao del Sur, Maguindanao del Sur, and BARMM’s Special Geographic Areas (SGA) in Cotabato province.
The police in BARMM have identified a total of 984 villages as areas of concern, with 284 barangays categorized as “red” due to grave security concerns.
BARMM comprises 2,532 barangays spread across the provinces of Tawi-tawi, Sulu, Basilan, Lanao del Sur, Maguindanao del Norte, and Maguindanao del Sur, as well as the cities of Cotabato, Lamitan, and Isabela.
A series of gun attacks and other violent incidents have been reported, particularly in Lanao del Sur and the Maguindanao provinces, since the start of the 90-day election period.
Nobleza said there were three documented election-related violence in Lanao del Sur, where police arrested and charged at least 20 election gun ban offenders.
Commission on Elections-Maguindanao del Sur supervisor Allan Kadon told the Provincial Joint Security Peace and Coordinating Council that at least nine towns in the province and all their barangays have been identified as areas of concern.
These towns include Pandag, Datu Piang, Sultan sa Barongis, Pagalungan, Rajah Buayan, Datu Paglas, Buluan, Datu Salibo, and South Upi.
In the 13 barangays in the BARMM SGA in Cotabato province, where residents will be voting for their barangay leaders for the first time, all candidates have pledged to adhere to the rules and cooperate in ensuring a safe and orderly election.
The candidates also signed an integrity pledge during a gathering organized by the Comelec, the police, and the military. – Rappler.com