Security forces declare readiness for Monday’s polls in Caraga and N. Mindanao

Published May 5, 2022, 1:50 PM

by Mike Crismundo

BUTUAN CITY – The Safe, Accurate, Free and Fair Election (SAFE) action center under the Joint Task Force (JTF) Diamond on Thursday, May 5, announced that all systems go for the next Monday’s 2022 National and Local Elections.

The SAFE-JTF is closely coordinating with the Commission on Election (COMELEC) and Philippine National Police (PNP) counterparts in Northeastern (Caraga) and Northern (Region 10) Mindanao regions.

“In coordination with the Comelec and our PNP counterparts, we have already laid down our security preparations smoothly, while continuing to review our deployment plans including the contingency measures for any eventuality,” said Lt. Col. Victor-Czar Villanueva, Deputy Commander of 4th Infantry Division’s Task Force SAFE.

Around 4,000 troops are on standby alert, ready for deployment.

The announcement of Task Force SAFE-JTF came about after members of the Regional Joint Security Control Center (RJSCC) convened for its 5th and final Command Conference at the Multi-Purpose Building in Barangay Pigcarangan, Tubod, Lanao del Norte, and thoroughly discussed the election preparations, deployment of troops as well as contingency measures in potential hotspot areas.

In a phone interview with The Manila Bulletin late Tuesday afternoon, 4th ID Public Information Office (PIO) chief Maj. Francisco P. Garello, Jr. said that Lt. Col. Villanueva encouraged the public to be vigilant, and actively participate in the electoral process and to report any activity that may disrupt the upcoming polls, so that the authorities can respond accordingly.

Meanwhile, 4th ID commanding General Maj. Gen. Wilbur C. Mamawag said the people of Caraga region and Region 10 can bank on 4th ID’s full support to make this election as orderly as possible.

“We reaffirm our commitment and professionalism in performing our mandate to protect every citizen’s right of suffrage, preserve the sanctity of the ballot, respect for human rights, while adhering to the non-partisanship of the command,” declared Maj. Gen. Mamawag.

In a related development, the regional command of Caraga Police Regional Office (PRO) 13 has mobilized troops for Monday’s election.

PRO 13 Regional Director P/Brig. Gen. Romeo M. Caramat, Jr. also disclosed to The Manila Bulletin that more police forces were deployed to render election duties in the five provinces and six cities in Caraga region.

Among their duties are the guarding of the Smartmatic Vote Counting Machine, ballot boxes and maintenance of peace and order in respective voting precincts and polls.

Earlier this week, PRO 13 joined the simultaneous Logistical Readiness Test and Dispatch Ceremony of the PNP while 798 police students of different courses had already been dispatched in different police stations and mobile forces in Caraga region.

Meanwhile, a Quick Response Team (QRT) was also organized by PRO13 Headquarters personnel should an emergency situation arise and an additional Reactionary Standby Support Force for contingency.

“PRO13’s commitment to the upcoming election started since last year during the filing of the Certificate of Candidacy of those who are seeking seats and we will not let our efforts go to waste by assuring the public that this will be the most peaceful and organized election in the history of the Caraga region” affirmed Gen. Caramat.