500 cops act as poll officers to defuse tension in Cotabato City

More than 500 police personnel are serving as Electoral Board (EB) members here to diffuse intense political rivalry, a police official said Monday.

Brig. Gen. Pablo Labra II, deputy director for administration of the Police Regional Office–Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (PRO-BARMM), assured the police officers have been trained to administer the elections.

“These police officers were trained to operate vote-counting machines (VCMS) in the city’s more than 100 clustered precincts,” Labra, who is also head of the Regional Special Operation Task Group Cotabato City and Maguindanao (RSTOG CoMag), said.

The decision to let the police serve as EBs came after an agreement between the camp of reelectionist Mayor Cynthia Guiani-Sayadi and mayoral aspirant Bruce Matabalao of United Bangsamoro Justice Party (UBJP).

On Saturday evening, a commotion erupted when supporters from both sides barred the transport of election paraphernalia to polling centers for final testing and sealing (FTS).

The tension only abated when the Comelec and the rival parties agreed for the police and military personnel to transport the VCMs and election paraphernalia to the Cotabato City Central Pilot Elementary School on Sunday.

Cotabato City has 120,221 registered voters.

Brig. Gen Arthur R Cabalona, PRO-BARMM director, has appealed to the candidates’ supporters to conduct their activities peacefully, in line with the Comelec’s rules and policies.

Source: Philippines News Agency

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