Army deploys more troops to secure polls in BARMM

Army deploys more troops to secure polls in BARMM

/ 05:02 AM October 21, 2023

CAMP SIONGCO, MAGUINDANAO DEL NORTE—Additional military forces arrived here on Friday to reinforce the security cover in some areas of the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM) during the conduct of the youth and village elections on Oct. 30.

A Philippine Air Force C-130 aircraft transported over 500 additional troops coming from different units of the Army.

“This proactive stance is aimed at safeguarding the electoral process, demonstrating the commitment of the government to upholding democracy and maintaining law and order,” said Maj. Gen. Alex Rillera, commander of the Army’s 6th Infantry Division.


He said they aimed to have the polls “conducted without disruptions, upholding the principles of democracy and allowing the people of BARMM to choose their local leaders freely and without fear.”


The police in the BARMM had listed 249 villages as election “hotspots.”

Earlier, Army chief Lt. Gen. Roy Galido vowed to prevent failure of election even in just one village in the region, hence the effort to strengthen security measures in collaboration with the police.

Amid serious security concerns in some parts of the BARMM, the Commission on Elections has prepared to deploy security forces to oversee balloting at the precincts as members of the electoral boards (EBs).

‘Dual personalities’

According to BARMM election director Ray Sumalipao, the poll body has already on standby 2,000 police personnel who will serve as EB members in different parts of the region where teachers have refused deployment for the Oct. 30 elections.

Relationship with candidates and security issues were among the reasons why the teachers backed off from poll duties.

“We already have a little over 2,000 police officers who will have dual personalities, as peacekeepers and as poll officials,” Sumalipao said.


Anticipating the worst, Sumalipao said part of the poll body’s preparation was training more security forces to perform poll duties in the event more teachers would refuse to serve or should violence erupt.

“We must inculcate in our minds that in this coming political exercise, failure of election is not an option, hence this plan to have more alternate poll officials,” Sumalipao said. “It is a must that we have a successful election.”

BARMM, composed of the provinces of Basilan, Lanao del Sur, Maguindanao del Norte, Maguindanao del Sur, Sulu, Tawi-Tawi and the cities of Cotabato, Lamitan and Marawi, has 2,590 villages in 116 municipalities, including the 63 villages in Cotabato province that joined the autonomous government in 2019.

About 2.74 million registered voters are expected to cast their ballots throughout 1,156 voting centers in the region on Oct. 30.

In the 63 villages, collectively known as the Special Geographic Area (SGA), there are about 125,000 registered voters expected to cast their votes in 67 precincts. Many of the SGA villages are listed by the police as “areas with grave security concerns” in relation to the elections.

READ: Comelec warns barangay, SK poll bets on poster limits, giveaways

Meanwhile, presidential peace adviser Carlito Galvez Jr. said leaders of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) in the Lanao provinces had vowed to help the government secure the upcoming polls.

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Galvez met with Bangsamoro parliament member Abdullah Macapaar and other MILF leaders on Tuesday, on the sidelines of the sixth commemoration of the end of the 2017 Marawi siege.

TAGS: Army, Barangay, BARMM, Elections, Military, Polls, SK

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