AROUND 2,000 security forces of the Philippine National Police (PNP) and Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) are ready to be deployed in the three districts of Negros Oriental to step up security measures for the May 9 national and local elections.

In a Provincial Peace Order Council (PPOC) meeting, Police Major Don Richmon Conag of the Provincial Police Office has reported that aside from the deployment of personnel for foot and mobile patrols, police visibility will be increased and tightened in strategic areas in the province.

The police officer said, though, that the Commission on Elections or the Regional Joint Security Coordination Center (RJSCC) has not yet issued the list of areas of grave concern.

This commanding force will be augmented for poll duties by about 200 personnel from the AFP and more than 1,500 from the police to keep the polls peaceful throughout the election process.

The military would also focus on its primary mission to defeat local armed threats or any armed group organized to commit acts of terrorism or threats against any individuals to influence their votes.

President Rodrigo Duterte, in his Talk to the People, said having more than two bodyguards is a form of a private army, which is against the election laws.

The President has warned political candidates to follow election laws.

Commanding Officer of the 302nd Infantry Brigade of the Philippine Army Brigadier General Leonardo Peña has assured that the Army is always non-partisan or apolitical to protect the people of Negros Oriental so they will be able to exercise their right to vote freely.

Comelec Provincial Election Supervisor Lionel Castillano said, “It is for the province of Negros Oriental’s benefit if we could create an atmosphere of peace so that come Election Day, high voter turnout would be a result of that atmosphere of peace.”

Duterte said he will order the arrest of candidates who would initiate disorder and aggression during the election period. (PIA)