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PRO8 activates special task group for 2013 polls

Samar identified "hot spot" for 2013 elections

By RPCRD, Police Regional Office 8
December 11, 2012

CAMP RUPERTO K. KANGLEON, Palo, Leyte  –  In order to ensure a fair and secured midterm elections next year, the Police Regional Office 8 (PRO8) had formed a special task group to be deployed in Samar province after it was included in the list of 15 “priority areas” for the May 2013 polls.

“We will make sure that upcoming elections is not only free and fair, but also secured, peaceful and orderly,” Police Chief Superintendent Elmer Ragadio Soria, Eastern Visayas regional director told reporters during a press conference held at Camp Lukban in Catbalogan City, headquarters of Samar Police Provincial Office on Saturday morning.

Recalling his own experience as Commander of Task Force: ABRA during the 2010 national and local elections, Soria assured that he will ensure that the will of the people is truly reflected in the upcoming elections.

“The election-related violent incidents that took place in some areas of the region that has defined the past electoral exercises is an indication that there exists an impending disturbance on peace and security in the May 2013 midterm elections. One of the greatest concerns we hold close to us is the need for security and peace. A truly peaceful electoral process is an indication that we will hear the voice of the people, our real “bosses”, Soria said.

Police Senior Superintendent Edgardo Orduña Basbas, the PRO8 Deputy Regional Director for Operations will head the Regional Special Operations Task Group (RSOTG) to be assisted by Police Senior Superintendent Eusebio Adamero Mejos, Samar Provincial Director.

The task group will be assigned troops coming from Samar provincial command, the Regional Public Safety Battalion (RPSB8) and PNP Special Action Force (SAF) and will be based at the Samar Police Provincial Office in Camp Lukban, Catbalogan City, Samar’s capital.

“We aim to neutralize the two remaining Partisan Armed Groups or PAGs in Samar province before the campaign period,” the Regional Director averred, adding that he ordered the RSOTG to conduct a stepped up crackdown on PAGs and to continue the massive drive against loose firearms that may be used as an “instrument of violence” in next year’s polls.

Earlier, the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) classified Samar province, as well as Pampanga, Nueva Ecija, Maguindanao, Abra, Pangasinan, Masbate, Lanao del Sur, Ilocos Sur, Basilan, La Union, Cavite, Cagayan, Batangas and Misamis Occidental as priority provinces for the elections based on how these fared in various factor that includes having histories of election-related violence, presence of intense political rivalry and threat groups, and number of loose firearms and PAGs.

Soria added that a province that lands in the priority list means it would receive greater focus from state security forces as the electoral season formally begins in January.

“This is aimed at deterring any untoward incident that could affect the integrity of the electoral exercise,” the Regional Director added.

Earlier, the Philippine National Police launched the “Secure and Fair Elections” program (SAFE 2013) which detailed, among others, the estimated number of loose firearms and the presence of private armed groups and other threat groups that could cause violence in the identified high-risk areas and the police action to be undertaken against these factors.