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14,000 troops to guard polls in Western Mindanao

Karlos Manlupig
Posted on 05/13/2013 6:17 AM  | Updated 05/13/2013 6:23 AM

GUARDING POLLS. Soldiers patrol along the highway in Datu Unsay town in Maguindanao on Sunday, May 12, 2013. Photo by Jeoffrey MaitemGUARDING POLLS. Soldiers patrol along the highway in Datu Unsay town in Maguindanao on Sunday, May 12, 2013. Photo by Jeoffrey Maitem

BAGANGA, Philippines - At least 14,000 government troops were deployed in various towns and villages in Western Mindanao to secure peace and order during the mid-term elections, a military official said on Monday, May 13.

Col Rodrigo Gregorio, public information officer of the military’s Western Mindanao Command, said soldiers were dispatched to at least 6,490 polling precincts all over the region to protect almost 2 million voters.

“The forces deployed will perform the election duties and secure the election paraphernalia until the election is over,” said Western Mindanao Command chief Lt Gen Rey Ardo.

Seven provinces have been declared as election hotspots in Western Mindanao, including Misamis Occidental, Maguindanao, Lanao del Sur, Lanao del Norte, Zamboanga del Norte, Basilan and Sulu.

“These provinces were tagged as high risk [or] hotspots because of the presence of these factors: private armed groups loose firearms, intense political rivalries, past history of election violence, and presence of armed threat groups,” Gregorio said.

The military has made necessary security adjustments and deployed additional forces in areas where “likelihood of violence to erupt is high”.

Gregorio commented that the 40 election-related episodres violence reported so far in Western Mindanao are relatively lower than the total of 80 registered in the 2010 election, but the election period in the region extends to up to one month after the May 13 vote.

“During this period we still expect some violent incidents to occur because some candidates or political camps cannot just accept defeat with grace,” Gregorio said. -

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