CATBALOGAN CITY- Less than a year before the conduct of the general elections, soldiers are now in the thick of things on their security preparations to ensure the conduct of polls in the region will be peaceful and orderly. Major General Jet Velarmino, commanding officer of the 9th Infantry Division based in this city, said that this early, they are now closely coordinating with the Philippine National Police (PNP) in the region on this matter. Velarmino said that by ensuring a peaceful conduct of elections, voters will feel secure that they could exercise their right of suffrage without fear that something untoward incident will happen to them. He also said that by working with their counterparts at the PNP, any movements of the armed groups could be neutralized. The military official was referring to both the members of the New People’s Army and the so-called private armed groups said to be maintained by some local politicians. The military has claimed that NPA members collect permits to win and campaign among candidates during election time. “Soldiers are prepared for every possible eventuality and they don’t lack the confidence to do their jobs,” Velarmino said. He also said that their presence, the military and police, help lessen political tensions. (JAZMIN BONIFACIO)