Cops eyed to man polls in North Cotabato town
KIDAPAWAN CITY — Authorities are eyeing the possibility of tapping police officers to man the voting precincts in at least 10 villages of Pikit town in North Cotabato province after teachers withdrew from serving in the May 14 barangay and Sangguniang Kabataan elections due to security concerns.
Chief Insp. Romy Castañares, Pikit town police chief, said teachers who backed out as members of the board of election inspectors (BEI) used to serve in the villages of Bago Ingued, Barongis, Panicupan, Rajamuda, Bulod, Damalasak, Balong, Silik, Kulambog and Talitay.
They cited the presence of armed men and the intense political rivalries in their communities among their reasons not to serve in the elections next week.
Lawyer Duque Kadatuan, North Cotabato election supervisor, said the 10 Pikit villages were among the province’s 154 areas of concern for the May 14 elections.
Kadatuan said 108 policemen would be assigned to these villages, composed of 36 clustered precincts, should the teachers refuse to report for poll duty.
“Majority of the teachers say they are not afraid to serve since they will be properly secured by the Philippine National Police. What they fear is the possibility of being targeted after the elections, when most complaints from both losing and winning candidates arise,” Castañares said.
He said he had submitted a report to the North Cotabato provincial police as well as to the Central Mindanao regional police on the situation in Pikit for immediate action.
Local policemen, he said, were undergoing training to prepare them for duty as BEI members.
Omar Obas, North Cotabato schools division superintendent, said he respected the decision of the teachers not to serve on May 14.
He said the safety of teachers was the Department of Education’s primary concern.
Obas said there were instances in past elections when teachers had to leave polling precincts because of tension among armed supporters of candidates.
He also cited the concern raised by BEI members in Barangay Talitay because of the presence of members of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front.
In the 2016 national and local elections, BEI members were forced to leave Talitay following a brawl involving supporters of local politicians, Castañares said. —Williamor Magbanua
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