State Forces All Set for May Polls in Bikol

Monday, May 10th, 2010

LEGAZPI CITY, May 5  -- Police and military authorities said Wednesday that preparations are in place for the May 10 national and local polls, assuring further the public that the state forces will remain neutral and non-partisan.

In a joint police and military consultative conference here, the police and military field commanders committed to perform their duties to ensure that the May elections would be carried out in an honest orderly and peaceful manner.

Major Harold M. Cabunoc, Division spokesperson, said that the ranking commanders of 9ID's seven battalions and three brigades have drew up their respective action scenario on the Army's internal security operations and the preparations for the upcoming elections.

Lt. Gen. Roland Detabali, commander of the Southern Luzon Command, said that he will ensure that the soldiers remain neutral and avoid partisan politics.

"I want every soldier to do their tasks seriously as we prepare ourselves for this historic election," he said.

The 9th ID has listed 15 towns and 55 baranggays in Camarines Sur under the Category 2 of the election watchlist of areas (EWAS). Certain places fall under this category when there are reported presence or past incidents of skirmishes with the communist rebels.

Some localities in the other five provinces of Bikol are also being watched by both the Philippine National Police (PNP) and Army forces either due to the presence of communist rebels or the past history of election-related violent incidents, especially in Masbate province.

Since the deployment of the 903rd Infantry Brigade to Sorsogon and the 83rd Infantry Battalion to Catanduanes in 2009, the Philippine Army has maintained presence in all of Bikol's six provinces.

"We have completed the realignment of our forces to address the security requirements. Our soldiers have constantly provided security patrols in areas which are threatened by the NPA rebels," Major General Ruperto Pabustan, the 9ID commander said.

The attending senior police officers likewise committed to perform their assigned tasks in coordination with the military personnel.

Chief Supt. Salvador Manga, representing the PNP-Southern Luzon, was confident that the soldiers and policemen can accomplish their delicate task of ensuring the conduct of honest and credible elections.

"With the efficient coordination with the Commission on Elections (Comelec) and the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP), there is no doubt the PNP can perform its job properly. We will protect the votes as mandated," he said. (PNA)