CAGAYAN DE ORO CITY – Nineteen persons armed with
automatic rifles and pistols on board a convoy of two pick-up trucks
were arrested in Pagadian City on Monday afternoon by a joint team of
Army and police personnel.
Capt. Clint Antipala, public information officer of the 1st Infantry
Division said the arrest was supervised by the Commission on Elections
(Comelec) which acted on a tip from residents on the presence of the
armed men in Barangay Danlugan, Pagadian.
“The government troops immediately responded in the area and were able
to flag down the two vehicles and immediately apprehended the
personalities on board possessing firearms,” Antipala said.
He said the soldiers and policemen seized five M16 rifles, seven Cal
..45 pistols, two Cal .357 revolvers, one 9mm pistol, one Cal .38
revolver, one Cal .22 revolver, several assorted ammunition and 17
pieces of bonnet masks.
The arrest came after the Armed Forces of the Philippines deployed
some 40,000 troops nationwide to help in the conduct of the May 2013
Violence has been the mark of elections in parts of the Philippines
while vote buying is rampant in many areas.
Over 61 million registered voters are expected to troop to the polling
centers on May 13 to vote for 12 senators, congressional district
representatives, party-list groups and local government officials.
The Comelec declared the entire Mindanao a “Category Red Election
Hotspot” in the run-up to the mid-term elections this month.
Mindanao, which has been placed under martial law since May 23, 2017,
comprises 27 provinces, 33 cities, 422 towns and 10,084 barangays. It
has a population of 24.1 million as of 2015 and its voting population
in the 2016 Presidential polls was 12.6 million, the second
vote-richest island in the country (Luzon’s was 30.4 million and
Visayas’ was 11.3 million)
AFP public affairs chief Col. Noel Detoyato said the troops will help
the police in ensuring the safety of the voters.
"They will be deployed in areas where extra security is needed like
areas of conflict or insurgency," Detoyato said.
He said the Comelec has tapped the military to transport election
paraphernalia or materials like ballot boxes.
The Army and police have set up joint election monitoring command
centers in Northern Mindanao to prevent the New People’s Army and
other armed groups from terrorizing voters on Election Day.
“We will deny them any chance to conduct atrocities, threaten election
officials and personnel or coerce voters,” 4th Infantry Division
commander Maj. Gen. Nemesio Gacal said.
Gacal said most of the soldiers and policemen who were deployed had
already voted under the supervision of the Comelec.
He said most of the voting was done in military and police camps last
week. (Froilan Gallardo/MindaNews)
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