THE Police Regional Office (PRO) Cordillera together with the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) will closely monitor 81 barangays in the region tagged as election hotspots.
Some 941,696 registered voters will troop to the different polling precincts in the Cordillera on Monday, May 14, to cast their vote for the barangay election while the 290,866 ages 15 to 17 years old will cast their votes for Sangguniang Kabataan (SK).
Abra has the most number of election hotspots with 36 barangays in 10 municipalities, followed by Kalinga with 25 barangays in five municipalities while the other hotspots are in Mountain Province due to the presence of communist terrorist groups, history of election-related violent incidences, political rivalries, and clan wars.
PRO–Cordillera reported some 3,353 police personnel will be assigned to the different polling centers in the region.
Commission on Election (Comelec) Regional Director Attorney Julius said police and the military have already dispatched their augmentation to the different provinces in the Cordillera.
Abra will have 1,025 security personnel; Apayao with 672; Benguet with 756; Ifugao with 903; Kalinga with 905, and Mountain Province with 644.
"Although we are anticipating possible minor problems that we can immediately resolve, the general perspective of the Comelec is we are ready to conduct the elections. The PNP and the AFP have presented their personnel deployment plan and their main focus would be in the province of Abra which they will be securing, the remaining challenge for us is the continuous training for our Board of Election Inspectors who will be presiding the elections," Torres said.
Torres added vote buying aside from the peace situation, remains their biggest challenge.
“It remains a challenge to us Comelec to run after the candidates engage in vote buying. Usually without have witnesses for buying, it is very difficult hopefully in the next few years the possible amendment of the law to strengthen efforts to prevent vote buying. Definitely the status of our laws, we have a hard time to prosecute vote buying,” said Torres adding their office receive reports however most of them are done verbally.
The Comelec official also reminded winning candidates to immediately file their statement of contributions (SOC) and expenditures.
Torres asked the help of the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) to prevent winning officials from resuming to office without SOC’s.
Last Saturday, May 12, Benguet Provincial Police Office (BPPO) Provincial Director Senior Superintendent Lyndon Mencio said they have sent all personnel from the region to the different towns in Benguet.
“We receive the augmentation coming from the regional director and we dispatched them on Friday, May 11 and again on Saturday, May 12we are dispatching additional personnel in their respective areas,” Mencio added.
“We are continuing conducting Comelec checkpoints and it will be on 24-hour basis.”
National Grid Corporation of the Philippines (NGCP) District Operations and Maintenance Senior Manager Engineer Allan Sandoval, meanwhile, said the NGCP’s contingency plans are taken to ensure that there will be no power outages or interruptions that will occur during the election.
Sandoval presented their contingency plans before, during and after the May 14 polls in the last Regional Joint Security Control Center Coordinating Command last May 9.
Comelec-Cordillera Regional Director Julius Torres called on the energy sector to assure adequate power during the conduct of the elections especially that it is back to the manual process and counting of ballots is expected to extend through the night until the proclamation of winners.
Sandoval said they have conducted corrective maintenance to the different transmission lines and facilities to ensure that continuous power supply to the different polling centers.
As per agreement with the Department of Energy (DoE), Sandoval said the NGCP will not be conducting any preventive maintenance to its facilities three days before and after the Election Day or from May 11 to 17.
Sandoval added their technical group and equipment are in place in the different strategic areas to implement works in case of emergencies along their lines, facilities and their substations.
He added linemen are deployed in strategic areas with the quick response teams stationed near substations to ensure any problems on their facilities will be dealt with immediately.
Sandoval also informed that on May 11, the NGCP would open command center at the different district offices in close coordination with their substations and the electric cooperatives and distribution utilities.
NGCP will also ensure smooth flow of information so government agencies, power customers and the media are well-informed on the operational status of the transmission grid.
NGCP District Security Officer Ronaldo Robiato also reported for the safety of the different vital installations and facilities, they have been beefing up their security group and have maintained close coordination on the deployment of augmentation force from the Philippine National Police and the Armed Forces of the Philippines in the different areas on high risk NGCP facilities.
The NGCP called on the public to be vigilant for possible problems during the election period. Emergency and unplanned outages should be reported to the Regional Comelec coordinating director and officer for dissemination to other stakeholder especially the security providers including the police and military for their guidance and to the NGCP TIP HOTLINE at 0917-847-6427 / 0918-847-6427. (With reports from RMC and PIA)