Duterte threatens to send more troops to Lanao del Sur
Dismayed by reports of violence and harassment in Lanao del Sur, President Duterte warned that he would deploy more troops to the province if the situation would not improve before Monday’s elections.
Addressing the people in Lanao del Sur, particularly those sowing trouble, the President said he would go to the province to personally accompany the troops.
“If you will not stop, when I return there, I will bring a lot of soldiers. You must remember that until now martial law exists in Mindanao. Do not force me. Do not force my hand to do something which you might not like and hate me for all time,” he said at the Partido Demokratiko Pilipino-Lakas ng Bayan “miting de avance” in Pasig City on Saturday.
Col. Romeo Brawner, commander of the 103rd Infantry Brigade based in Marawi City, said that while the brigade would be “honored” that the President would visit Lanao del Sur, there was no basis for reports of chaos in the province.
Zero election-related violence
“I don’t know where you get the information that it’s chaotic here when, until today, we have zero election-related violence,” Brawner told the Inquirer by phone on Sunday.
He said the brigade was in constant coordination with other military units and the police operating in Lanao del Sur.
“So far there are no ERVIs (election-related violent incidents) in the area. We are hopeful that this will continue until after the elections,” he said.
As to reports that a number of teachers had withdrawn from election duty, Lanao del Sur election supervisor Allan Kadon said this was “normal” in the province. He cited many possible reasons for their absence, such as security, health and Ramadan.
Kadon did not have the exact number of teachers who backed out from serving as members of the Board of Election Inspectors (BEI). But he assured the public that even if they did, it would not affect the canvassing.
Some 450 policemen have been trained by the Commission on Elections to become BEI members, he said.
Visit on Sunday
Malacañang said the President was scheduled to go to Lanao del Sur on Sunday.
“He will fly to Lanao because of the chaos there that he has to attend to … There’s trouble there, many killings. He told me last night that he had to go to Lanao. Those were his exact words,” said presidential spokesperson Salvador Panelo.
The President gave assurance that government troops would remain impartial in going about their duties to ensure peace and order.
“We may be friends or not, administration or not. But I am neutral, the policemen and soldiers are neutral. That’s the order of the day. It’s chaotic there. That’s why I’m saying I might fly over there to tell them so,” he said.
Letter, massive vote-buying
The President’s reaction to the supposed chaos in Lanao del Sur came a week after a member of the Bangsamoro Transition Authority (BTA) wrote him a letter asking him to postpone the elections there.
On May 3, BTA member Jamel D. Macaraya asked Mr. Duterte to either postpone or declare a failure of elections in Lanao del Sur and Marawi City, citing massive vote-buying.
He said he was informing the President of the situation as the BTA’s “sincere desire to support in ending corruption and in establishing good governance in the country.”
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