2013 ELECTIONS : PNP focuses on Basilan, Maguindanao, Lanao Sur PDF Print E-mail
Saturday, 15 December 2012 14:36

Philippine National Police (PNP) authorities in the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) have started preparations for the coming mid-term elections in 2013.

Monitoring of the security situation has started in three of five provinces of ARMM where armed conflict due to election-related violence could erupt before, during and after the balloting.

Police are focusing on the provinces of Maguindanao, Lanao del Sur and Basilan. The other provinces in the ARMM where elections are not likely to be violent are Sulu and Tawi-Tawi.

Based on the listings of the Department of Interior and Local Government, Basilan, Lanao del Sur and Maguindanao are among the areas declared “priority provinces” due to reported presence of private armed groups; having so many loose firearms in the hands of residents; and having most cases of election-related violence during the 2007 and 2010 elections.

Chief Supt. Mario Avenido, director of the ARMM police, said the police provincial offices in Maguindanao, Lanao del Sur and Basilan are now formulating security plans to help the Commission on Elections administer a safe and fair elections or “SAFE,” next year.

Avenido said his office is coordinating with the Parish Pastoral Council for Responsible Voting, local Christian and Muslim religious communities, peace advocacy outfits and civil society organizations (CSOs) in working for SAFE and CHAMP (Clean, Honest, Accurate, Meaningful and Peaceful) elections in 2013.

“Having ‘SAFE’ is an initiative that should involve all sectors. We can’t leave everything to the Comelec, the Philippine National Police and the Armed Forces of the Philippines,” Avenido said, explaining why the PNP is coordinating with CSOs and NGOs.

The region is known for clan wars involving large Muslim families who prefer to settle differences through the barrel of guns rather than through dialogues.

Avenido is hopeful next year’s elections in the region will be as peaceful as in 2010.

Catholic priest Dave Procalla, ARMM chair of the PPCRV, said his group is willing to work with the PNP and the AFP and other election watchdogs to ensure CHAMP and SAFE in 2013.