By Germelina Lacorte
DAVAO CITY — Wary over the recent raids of the Communist New People’s Army (NPA) in the region, the military is deploying 20,000 troops to augment security forces in Eastern Mindanao.
“They threaten the peaceful conduct of the elections, a great reason for the augmentation of our troops,” said Major General Ernesto Boac, Philippine Army 10th Infantry Division commanding general. “The presence of Communist rebels and other leftist organizations remains to be the biggest threat in the election.”
Boac said 2,335 soldiers will augment the police in nine critical towns in Davao del Norte, seven towns in Davao del Sur, 11 towns in Davao Oriental and practically all the towns in Compostela Valley province. The biggest deployment will be 1,365 soldiers in Compostela Valley, earlier tagged by the military as an “area of immediate concern” because of its recent clashes there with the NPA.
“We’re moving toward increasing troop deployments in 36 towns in the region we consider critical,” said Boac. He said 233 army troops will be deployed in Davao del Sur, 467 troops in Davao Oriental and 261 troops in Davao del Norte to augment existing police and security forces in the area.
“There is always a threat posed by the Communist NPA. They’re taking advantage of the situation to wage their armed struggle,” said Col. Alan Luga, commanding officer of the Task Force Davao. “We have prepared our forces in the conduct of security operations and are augmenting them to be deployed in identified critical areas,” he said.
Philippine National Police (PNP) regional director Andres Caro said the whole region has been on full alert as early as seven in the morning of Friday as the campaign period for the May 14 election reaches its final phase. Caro said the PNP is deploying 60 percent of its forces to ensure a clean and orderly election in 1,440 polling centers in the region. “We’re sending them out as early,” said Caro, who urged the people to “get out and vote on Monday.” “We have put the entire region in full red alert,” he said.
Earlier, the Commission on Elections (Comelec) has placed the town of Monkayo under Comelec control because incidence of the worsening political rivalry between reelectionist Compostela Valley Representative Manuel “Way Kurat” Zamora and his rival Lito Brillantes.
Caro said actual cases of election-related violence in Monkayo included the killing of Sergio Apat, who was affiliated with Brillantes, in barangay Casoon, Monkayo; the killing of Orlando Sajonia, a barangay tanod identified with Zamora; the wounding of Bienvenido Esguerra, who was affliated with Zamora, in Poblacion, Monkayo; the killing of Junnel Lanoy, a driver and security of Brillantes; the wounding of Jose Munez, a barangay captain closely identified with Zamora; the killing of Councilor Narding Ongcal, the political coordinator of Zamora in Cockpit Gallera in Montevista; and the killing of Arnie Arevalo Tatoy, a political coordinator of Chongkie Uy in Purok 7, barangay Linoan, Montevista by three unidentified gunmen. (Germelina Lacorte/davaotoday.com)2007 Elections