PNP: Situation in Lanao del Sur still ‘normal’
MALABANG, Lanao del Sur, Philippines — The Philippine National Police (PNP) considers the situation in this province as “normal” even as it deployed close to 2,000 officers to keep the peace and assist the Commission on Elections (Comelec) in the conduct of Monday’s midterm elections.
In an interview Sunday evening, Col. Madzgani Mukaram, chief of the Lanao del Sur Police Provincial Office, he had not received reports of any election-related violence since the campaign period started.
What his office focused on, Mukaram said, was the deployment of law enforcers to towns where many teachers had either been disqualified or refused to serve in the elections.
He said more than a hundred police officers were designated as members of the Board of Election Inspections (BEIs) in the towns of Masiu, Lumbaca-Unayan, Sultan Dumalondong, Madalum, Binidayan, Bacolod-Kalawi, Marogong, Malabang, and Lumba-Bayabao.
More officers from the PNP regional headquarters in the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao based in Marawi City have been put on stand-by and are awaiting instructions to be assigned as BEIs in Butig and Pagayawan in case the teachers in those towns will back out at the last minute.
In this town, around 200 police officers were briefed by the Comelec Sunday afternoon, giving them a refresher course on how to handle the Vote Counting Machines and other election-related functions.
The acting municipal election officer for Malabang, Joyce Moran, said they had to remove the names of some teachers as BEIs since they did not qualify for the position, as some of them were volunteer teachers still applying for a permanent job at the Department of Education.
Many have also declined to serve due to fear that they will be affected by intense political rivalry.
In a separate interview, the provincial assistant election officer, Norani Indar Macalaba, said most of those who were disqualified had relatives running in Monday’s polls.
In Lumba-Bayabao town alone, 15 teachers were disqualified because they are related to candidates in their locality, he said.
The Philippine Army’s 6th Infantry Brigade commander, Lt. Col. Clairemont Pinpin, said he had deployed 600 soldiers to help secure the elections, especially keeping an eye on Malabang, Balabagan, and Marogong towns, which had been reported to have a history of violence due to intense political rivalry among the ruling clans.
(Editor: Alexander T. Magno)
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