PNP, BARMM collaborate to prevent violence ahead of polls

Ferdinandh Cabrera

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PNP, BARMM collaborate to prevent violence ahead of polls

SECURITY. PNP chief General Benjamin Acorda Jr. answers reporters' questions during the security summit in Cotabato City on Thursday, May 11.

Ferdinandh Cabrera / Rappler

The security summit in the BARMM is held just days after the Brussels-based International Crisis Group released a report about how the upcoming elections will test the region's stability

COTABATO CITY, Philippines – The Philippine National Police (PNP) and the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM) have started collaborating to prevent more politically related violence in the region ahead of the barangay and youth elections later this year.

The Bangsamoro is one of the regions in the country with the highest incidence of killings suspected to be offshoots of local political rivalries.

Since January, at least a dozen cases of violence, involving barangay officials and other politicians have been documented by authorities.

PNP chief General Benjamin Acorda Jr. came over and met with BARMM officials who organized a security summit in Cotabato City over concerns that violence could escalate in the months leading up to the October barangay and Sangguniang Kabataan (SK) elections.

Key leaders of the Bangsamoro regional government and local officials, including their military counterparts, participated in the summit at the Bangsamoro Government Complex in Cotabato City. 

The security summit was held just days after the Brussels-based International Crisis Group released a report about how the upcoming barangay and youth elections will test the region’s stability.

In the May 1 report, the Crisis Group sounded the alarm about the potential violence in the region due to tensions between powerful political families and the interim officials of the regional government.

It also noted that some of the political groups, which have a stronghold on politics and the economy in the region, often possess private armies involved in violence. 

The report recommended establishing a sustainable modus vivendi between the MILF-led regional authority and the clan-dominated local governments, addressing governance and basic services, and dismantling armed groups involved in political rivalries.

Acorda said he came over to personally assess the election preparations and identify areas of concern during the elections.

He said the PNP was engaging BARMM’s local chief executives in discussions for “mutual assistance.” 

Bangsamoro Interior Minister and BARMM spokesperson Naguib Sinarimbo said the election preparations would require more security forces from the PNP.

“We will request assistance from Congress to take legislative action on our proposal to increase the number of police recruits intended for the region,” Sinarimbo told a press briefing following the security summit.

After the summit, Acorda proceeded to Camp Salipada K. Pendatun, the regional headquarters of the PNP in Parang, Maguindanao del Norte, to discuss the security preparations ahead of the October elections. –

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