With only one week before the election, the Philippine National Police and the Philippine Army have gone on full alert in Negros Occidental, effective yesterday.
Senior Supt. Ricardo de la Paz, Negros Occidental Provincial Police officer-in-charge, said they have raised their alert level and cancelled all the privileges of PNP personnel until after the election.
De la Paz said they are ensuring that there will be PNP personnel to respond to untoward incidents during and after the election.
"We are now combat ready and our weapons are on stand by", he said.
De la Paz said he met with chiefs of police and unit heads to ensure that all issues related to the election are addressed. There will be additional policemen from the Regional Public Safety Management Battalion, the PNP Special Action Force and the Provincial Public Safety Company will augment the NOPPO in securing the polls, he added.
Elections provincial supervisor Wil Arceno called on the rebels and politicians to allow the people to freely exercise their right to vote in the May polls.
The encounter site in Sipalay that left five soldiers dead on Saturday is far from voting centers, Arceno said.
He also called on some landowners in Moises Padilla and San Carlos City to open their gates to allow voters to pass through to vote, amid reports that some had blocked passageways.
Army Col. Jon Aying, 303 rd Infantry Brigade commander, said they are holding security caravans in northern and central Negros, where the army distributes information materials to the public so they will work together with the PNP and the army in securing the elections.
Aying said one of the challenges they are facing in securing the elections is lack of financial resources, but he is optimistic that this would be ironed out soon.
He also urged the public to help them curb any possible election-related violence by providing them information if they know anyone who plans to launch atrocities.
There will also be additional soldiers to be deployed in the province during the elections, especially in the towns and cities of Negros Occidental identified as Election Watchlist Areas (EWAS) for the coming election, he said.*APN