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CAGAYAN DE ORO, Philippines – A combined force of more than 10,000 policemen and soldiers has been deployed, starting Thursday, October 27, to help ensure peace and order in 2,002 barangays in Northern Mindanao for the October 30 barangay and Sangguniang Kabataan elections.
Police National Police-Northern Mindanao spokesperson Joanne Navarro said all the police stations have gone on full-alert mode as more than three million voters in the two highly urbanized cities, the seven component cities, and 84 municipalities will go to the polling places on Monday.
Major Francisco Garello, spokesperson of the Army’s 4th Infantry Division, said the military alone has deployed 4,000 soldiers to help the police secure the elections in the region on Monday.
Garello said as early as Wednesday, Army soldiers have conducted mobile checkpoints along the major highways of Northern Mindanao and the neighboring Caraga region.
Major General Jose Maria Cuerpo II, 4th ID commander, assured that the soldiers and policemen were capable of protecting all candidates and voters in Northern Mindanao.
“I have ordered the soldiers to stay neutral and stay away from the influence of politics,” Cuerpo said.
Northern Mindanao, or Region X, is composed of five provinces, namely Misamis Oriental, Misamis Occidental, Bukidnon, Lanao del Norte, and Camiguin, and the two highly urbanized centers, Cagayan de Oro and Iligan cities.
“The police stations are augmented by our regional mobile forces and the PNP maritime units as well as the Philippine Army,” Major Navarro said.
The PNP said they are closely monitoring the elections of 176 barangays in Region X, which they have tagged as “areas of concern” in their latest monitoring of possible election violence that may break out on or before Monday.
“We are especially concerned about a barangay in the town of Nunungan, Lanao del Norte, which has a long history of election violence,” Navarro said.
She said they are closely watching more than 80 candidates who are at risk of becoming victims of election violence.
Navarro said more than a dozen candidates are on the PNP’s high-risk category list. Seven of them are in Lanao del Norte, three in Misamis Occidental, two in Bukidnon, and one in Misamis Oriental.
Meanwhile, she said an election monitoring center that will also serve as a media center has been set up at the PNP regional headquarters in Camp Alagar, Cagayan de Oro City, to coordinate police operations on election day. – Rappler.com