To ensure a peaceful, safe balloting

TACLOBAN CITY-At least 230 policemen are to be deployed to Samar province for election-related duties and to ensure that the conduct of balloting there will be peaceful and orderly.
This was disclosed by B/Gen. Bernard Banac, the police regional director for Eastern Visayas, who said that the police force will be deployed beginning March 1 and until the election period is over.
“We will deploy an additional number of police in Samar just to ensure that the conduct of the national and local elections in Samar will be safe, orderly, and peaceful elections,” he said.
“So as much as possible, we don’t want any untoward incident that will take place between now and until the election period is over,” Banac added.
According to the regional police director, the presence of the additional police force, who will come from the police regional police headquarters and who just finished their police trainings, will serve as a deterrent for any possible untoward incident relative to the forthcoming May 9 elections.
While the Commission on Elections, together with the Philippine National  Police and the Philippine Army in the region, has yet to identify any areas of concern or ‘hot spot areas’ in connection with the elections, some parts of Samar province have always been identified in the said category in previous elections.
Among these areas are the town of Santa Margarita and Calbayog City, where the additional police force are to be temporarily headquartered.
Incidentally, several shooting and killing incidents have been reported in these areas in previous weeks though Banac said that based on their initial reports, these were ordinary cases of homicide and not yet classified as election-related.
Meantime, Banac said that they will support any peace initiatives or covenants among candidates and other stakeholders in Samar and the rest of the region as a way that the balloting will be peaceful and orderly.
“WE are ready to participate in any peace covenants between and among candidates and other stakeholders. For now, our situation in Region 8 remains to be calm and whatever incidents that were reported are just isolated cases,” he said.
As this developed, the Regional Special Operations Task Group(RSOTG)-Samar was reactivated with Col. Jonathan Cabal, assistant police regional director for operations.
The special task force will focus and monitor any election-related incidents that may take place in Samar.