6,000 cops tasked with poll duties in Western Mindanao
ZAMBOANGA CITY—As many as 6,000 policemen would be deployed for election duties in the towns and cities of Western Mindanao for the May 13 midterm elections.
They would secure 2,264,157 registered voters expected to cast their votes in 3,374 precincts all over the region, said Police Brig. Gen. Emmanuel Licup, regional director of the Western Mindanao Police Regional Office 9 (PRO9).
Licup said the policemen — 1,031 of whom would come from PRO9 headquarters and the rest from provincial and city police units — would arrive at their assigned areas 10 days before election day.
Their task is to secure “provisions for the storage, delivery and retrieval of vote counting machines and accessories, ballots and other election paraphernalia,” Licup said in a statement.
He said some of the cops would be assigned to “secure all [Commission on Elections] hubs and offices” and to operate against “motorcycle-riding criminals, wanted persons and gun-for-hire personalities to preempt election-related violence.”
These cops will man mobile checkpoints to ensure peaceful and orderly elections, he said.
Licup said that when the Comelec declared the entire Mindanao as a “red” election hot spot, the Philippine National Police needed to stretch its personnel to cover all the areas before, during and after the elections.
He said the 6,004 policemen would augment the military personnel who would also be deployed to secure the elections.
The Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) in the region will also deploy five of its high-speed vessels to assist the Comelec and the teachers who are to serve as board of election inspectors (BEIs) and to ferry election returns to and from island barangays.
Comm. Joseph Coyme, commander of PCG Southwestern Mindanao, said personnel had been assigned solely to help the BEIs and Comelec personnel but were also instructed “not to touch ballot boxes, because it is prohibited for our troops to hold [these].”
Coyme said his men had also been cautioned against being partisan. “If we know our personnel have relatives running for office, we immediately reshuffle them,” he said.
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