800 PNP, AFP personnel ready for special polls in Lanao del Sur towns
MANILA, Philippines — Around 800 uniformed troops from the Philippine National Police (PNP) and the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) are ready to secure the holding of special elections in some Lanao del Sur towns, the PNP spokesperson said on Wednesday.
In a press briefing, PNP spokesperson Col. Jean Fajardo said that should the Commission on Elections (Comelec) deem it necessary to add more personnel on the ground to secure the elections in the said province, PNP and AFP are both ready to respond.
“Sa ngayon meron na po tayong kapulisan at kasundaluhan na nakalatag po do’n, more or less mga around 800 mahigit po ‘yong ating personnel na tututok po doon sa gagawing special elections dyan sa probinsya ng Lanao del Sur,” Fajardo told reporters.
(As of now we have around 800 police officers and military personnel deployed in the area, they are assigned to focus on the upcoming special elections in the province of Lanao del Sur.)
“If the Comelec would require us to add more troops on the ground, then the PNP and the AFP (are) ready to respond,” she added.
Comelec last Wednesday declared a failure of elections in at least 14 barangays in Lanao del Sur — one in Butig, one in Binidayan, and twelve from Tuburan town — due to various incidents like armed men stealing vote counting machines and ballots in Butig.
Fajardo also said that there were instances wherein rivaling families were set to vote inside a single clustered precinct, prompting local officials and poll officers to ask Comelec to postpone elections.
“So ‘yong atin namang mga local candidates do’n sila na mismo naman ang nag-request doon particularly doon sa Tuburan na i-postpone ‘yong elections because nga nagkaroon ng reclustering ‘yong mga presinto na pagsama-sama ‘yong mga pamilya at indibidwal na medyo may iringan,” Fajardo said.
(Our local candidates themselves requested the elections, particularly in Tuburan, to be postponed because a re-clustering of the precincts placed rivaling families and individuals with disputes together.)
“So they deemed it necessary na i-postpone para nga mas lalong hindi dumanak ‘yong dugo do’n at mag-escalate to further, ‘ika nga, gulo doon. So ‘yon ang expected, nag-commit naman ‘yong contending parties and the Comelec is in control of the situation,” she added.
(Officials deemed it necessary to postpone so that blood would not spill and disputes would not escalate further to bigger fights. So that is what’s expected, the contending parties committed to ensuring peace and the Comelec is in control of the situation.)
Comelec is looking at holding special elections by May 24, Tuesday.
According to Fajardo, they are still putting importance on the elections in the said Lanao del Sur towns because even if the remaining votes mean little to national election results, it may still have an impact in the local race.
“Alam natin na do’n sa national elections siguro hindi na masyadong magkakaroon ng epekto itong special elections, but doon sa local medyo magkakaron pa siguro ng difference dahil more or less mga around 8,000 pa ‘yong mga ine-expect nating mga boto do’n,” she said.
(We know that for the national elections maybe the special elections would not have that much effect, but here in the local polls it may have a difference because we are expecting around 8,000 more votes to come in.)
“It may spell a difference doon sa (at the) local,” she added.
Last Saturday, the Army assured residents in the said areas that they will deploy a ‘substantial force’ for the Lanao del Sur special elections, to prevent any untoward incident.
Aside from impacting the local elections, the results are being awaited by Comelec as it may be substantial to the party-list race, where rankings are important in determining which group gets seats in the House of Representatives.
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