A total of 17,463 soldiers will secure the communities and polling places during the conduct of the barangay and Sangguniang Kabataan elections (BSKE) in the three regions of the Visayas on October 30.
Of the 17,463 soldiers, 5,866 have been deployed to Western Visayas; 5,356 to Central Visayas; and 6,241 to Eastern Visayas; Lt. General Benedict Arevalo, chief of the Visayas Command (Viscom), said yesterday.
Arevalo said while they are hoping for the best, they are prepared for the worst.
“Our security effort was conceptualized not because we foresee an imminent threat but because we wanted to ensure that the upcoming electoral process will succeed,” Arevalo said in a statement.
The over 17,000 soldiers — composed of officers, enlisted personnel and members of the Citizens Armed Forces Geographical Unit (CAFGU) — deployed for election duties, “would boost the confidence of our people to come out and cast their votes out of their own free will and not because they are intimidated or threatened by the CPP-NPA [Communist Party of the Philippines-New People’s Army] or any threat groups,” he added.
About half of them will sustain focused military operations in the outskirts of communities in the region to prevent the CPP-NPA from perpetrating atrocities that might disrupt the electoral process in these areas.
The remaining half will augment the Philippine National Police and the Philippine Coast Guard in securing the polling centers, movement and transport of election paraphernalia, and sustaining the conduct of Commission on Elections (Comelec) checkpoints in the urban areas.
Meanwhile, Lt. Colonel Israel Galorio, Viscom spokesperson, said they have not monitored imminent threats in the upcoming elections.
“Deploying our soldiers will ensure a successful BSKE and encourage our electors to vote freely and without fear,” Galorio told the Philippine News Agency.
Meanwhile, the Police Regional Office in Central Visayas (PRO-7) advised BSKE bets not to give in to NPA’s extortion activities, requiring them to secure a “permit to campaign” and a “permit to win.”
Lt. Colonel Gerard Ace Pelare, spokesperson of the Central Visayas Joint Security Coordinating Center, said they are monitoring the provinces of Negros Oriental and Bohol where extortion incidents had been reported during the past elections.
“In previous elections, we have reports [of extortion]. We have already proactively deployed our police personnel together with military personnel to make sure that NPA extortion won’t happen again this BSKE,” Pelare said.
The police in the region have also intensified the Comelec’s “Oplan Kontra Bigay” program to apprehend candidates who engage in vote buying and voters who sell their votes.
“There will be a committee in each municipality and city to be headed by the election officer and the police will conduct police operations against vote selling and vote buying,” Pelare added. (PNA)