AROUND 12,000 policemen, soldiers and members of the Philippine Coast Guard will be deployed throughout Central Visayas to impose strict security in polling places for the Barangay and Sangguniang Kabataan Elections (BSKE) on Oct. 30, 2023.
Lt. Col. Gerard Ace Pelare, spokesman of Police Regional Office 7 Director Brig. Gen. Anthony Aberin, said 9,200 policemen and more than 2,000 personnel from the Visayas Command of the Armed Forces of the Philippines and the Philippine Coast Guard will be deployed.
Pelare said that this is only an initial deployment, and that additional troops will be pulled from police stations if necessary.
“We will be assessing on a regular basis if there’s a need to augment because we have a reserve force in each headquarters. Here in the regional headquarters, we have a reserve force. In other provincial police offices and city police offices, we also have a contingency force which we can dispatch to identified areas,” he said.
The PRO 7 will begin deploying police officers next week, focusing on the 41 locations in Central Visayas that have been designated as Commission on Elections (Comelec) areas of concern.
Thirty-five of the 41 areas have been classified as areas of immediate concern, which means that many policemen will be stationed in these barangays due to untoward incidents that occurred during the last election and the presence of rebel communists, particularly in Negros Oriental and Bohol.
The remaining six areas have been classified as areas of concern.
The places where recent shooting incidents victimized candidates for the upcoming barangay election have not yet been included on the list of areas of concern pending further validation.
Last Oct. 5, 60-year-old barangay councilor Anastacio Pacquiao, who was running for barangay captain of Barangay Cansomoroy in Balamban town, Cebu, was shot dead.
“Obviously, there will be increased security in identified election areas of concern and election areas of immediate concern, and proactive measures will be taken to address the situation,” Pelare said.
The PRO 7 plans to hold a dialogue with election candidates to achieve a peaceful and orderly election. It will also assess candidates who received threats to their life to determine whether they need security.