All the 2,044 Precinct Count Optical Scan machines intended for Negros Occidental, have been accounted for, Provincial Comelec officer-in-charge Wil Arceno said yesterday.
This was after the Commission on Election in Dumaguete City reported that 266 PCOS machine for Negros Oriental and Siquijor provinces for the May 13 polls are missing.
Arceno, who met yesterday with Col Jon Aying, 303rd Infantry Brigade commander, and Senior Supt. Ricardo de la Paz, officer-in-charge of the Negros Occidental Provincial Police Office, said the newly-arrived PCOS machines for Negros Ocidental, are now stored in a bodega in Bacolod City.
He also said the ballots are also expected to arrive in Negros Occidental during the weekend.
The final security deployment plans for Negros Occidental will be presented Monday during a meeting with members of the Provincial Joint Security Coordinating Council, two weeks before the May 13 elections.
De la Paz said the 13 areas included in the election watch list will be given priority in the deployment of more government troops.
De la Paz also said the elite police Special Action Force will be utilized as the rapid deployment force.
It was agreed during the security meeting with the 303rd Infantry Brigade and the Comelec that the police will provide security personnel to secure the transport of PCOS machines in Negros Occidental, while Army soldiers were tasked to extend road security, he added.
Included in the election watch list areas in Negros Occidental are the cities of Escalante and Sipalay, towns of Pulupandan, La Castellana, Moises Padilla, Toboso, Cauayan, Isabela,Ilog, Candoni, Murcia and Calatravam, because of intense political rivalries, history of election-related incidents and presence of armed rebels.
De la Paz said he is optimistic about peaceful elections in the province, citing the overwhelming support they are getting from various stakeholders involved in the process.
Chief Supt. Agrimero Cruz, regional police director of Western Visayas, said they have enough personnel to secure the transport of PCOS machines and ballots from the city and town halls to polling centers.
Cruz said at least two police uniformed personnel will be detailed as security in the transport of PCOs and ballots, two days before the election day.
They will also tap members of the Barangay Peacekeeping Action Teams and barangay tanods for area security and monitoring, he added.*GPB