It's all systems go for the Philippine Army and National Police in ensuring that barangay elections in Negros Occidental today will be peaceful, orderly and credible.
Col. Jon Aying, 303rd Infantry Brigade commander, said he is mobilizing about 3,000 soldiers and government militiamen, , on top of the 1,500 policemen stationed in Negros Occidental to secure the polls.
Of the 662 barangays in Negros Occidental, 127 have been classified as election areas of concern by the police and military.
Brig.Gen. Aurelio Baladad, 3rd Infantry Division commander, assured residents of Negros and Panay that the Philippine Army in the region remains instrument of peace, and will work hand-in-hand the PNP and the Commission on Elections to ensure the honest, secure, fair and peaceful conduct of the barangay elections.
The 3ID will remain apolitical and non-partisan during the conduct of elections, he said.
Security measures that include the conduct of choke points and check points and other procedures are also set to ensure the safety of the voters, with Army troops deployed several days before the actual conduct of elections, to monitor and prevent any atrocious plans of the lawless armed elements, especially by the CPP-NPA in the far flung barangays, Baladad also said.
We will not allow any group to influence and undermine the electoral process, he said.
He also encouraged the citizenry to be more vigilant in preventing violence and their exercise of their right to suffrage, or any influence, threat and intimidation, Baladad said.*GPB
Meanwhile, in Bacolod, 492 cops were deployed to designated posts for the elections in the city, Senior Supt. Edgardo Ordaniel, BCPO acting city director said yesterday.
Policemen have been assigned to the 45 voting centers, at the BAYS Center, Bacolod Government Center, Elections Monitoring Action Center of 10 police stations, and at the City Election Monitoring Action Center at the BCPO headquarters, he said.
Twenty policemen will escort the COMELEC personnel, 12 will be assigned to the inspection team, 26 to the City Standby Support Team, 100 for the Mobile Security Team, and the camp security will have 12 personnel.
He reiterated to his men that they must stand firm and not be intimidated, adding that they should apprehend those observed violating the Omnibus Election Code.
Although there are no election watchlist areas in Bacolod, Ordaniel said that policemen should not lower their guard, and should not allow anybody to sabotage the poll process.
He also reminded the public and business establishments to avoid selling or buying alcoholic beverages since the liquor ban has not yet been lifted and the police are ready to arrest anyone caught violating it.
Meanwhile, TMU deputy chief, Senior Police Officer 4 Julito Colantro also said the Bacolod City Traffic Authority Office/Traffic Management Unit is ready to manage and control traffic in roads leading to the voting centers for today's barangay elections.
About 200 personnel will be deployed in voting centers, he said.
The enforcers will focus more on the polling centers located in the city proper, that include the Educational Training Center Schools I, II and III; Mabini Elementary School; Andres Bonifacio Elementary School; and schools in Brgy. Villamonte.
Some will be deployed at the intersections near the downtown area, he said adding that there will be no rerouting in Bacolod but some diversions are to be followed once heavy traffic congestions develop.*SGG