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Government deploys more security forces for BSKE

Mark Ernest Villeza - The Philippine Star
Government deploys more security forces for BSKE
Members of an elite Philippine Navy unit assemble with other security forces for deployment at Camp Crame yesterday during the send-off rites for the barangay polls.

MANILA, Philippines — More government forces are being deployed to ensure a peaceful and orderly barangay and Sangguniang Kabataan elections (BSKE) next week.

At least 715 personnel from the Philippine National Police (PNP), 250 from the Armed Forces of the Philippines, 115 from the Philippine Coast Guard and 90 participants from the Department of Education assembled for deployment during the send-off and turnover rites at Camp Crame on Monday.

The contingents were sourced from all 17 regions in the country and will be part of government forces deployed for the barangay polls next week.

During a press briefing, PNP chief Gen. Benjamin Acorda Jr. said police have categorized areas into four groups in terms of security risks for the BSKE: red, orange, yellow and green.

At least 356 areas were put under the red category, 1,323 were orange, 1,231 yellow and the remaining 39,114 barangays in the green category.

The categorization is a crucial element of their security assessment, Acorda said, noting that the PNP’s assessment of the situation “is a favorable one.” He said that it is considered a “go-go” for the PNP and other agencies under the Commission on Elections (Comelec).

While Acorda expressed readiness and commitment to maintaining the security of the BSKE, he emphasized that the PNP and partner agencies are closely coordinating to ensure the safety of teachers involved in the elections, addressing any threats they may face.

Acorda has also discussed that as of Oct. 23, 22 election-related incidents (ERI) have been validated out of 109 reported. The numbers show a decrease in ERIs compared to previous elections, which is a positive sign for the upcoming BSKE, he said.

Withhold proclamation

BSKE candidates with pending disqualification cases may not be able to assume their posts even if they win in the Oct. 30 elections, Comelec Chairman George Garcia said.

Garcia said the commission intends to come out with a resolution suspending the proclamation of candidates with pending disqualification cases.

“Because many think that the Comelec cannot resolve all of it. Don’t worry, we will issue a resolution suspending all the proclamations of the candidates with pending cases,” he said in a radio interview on Sunday.

Garcia explained that the Comelec still has jurisdiction over those candidates who won the elections, thus their proclamation may still be suspended.

According to Garcia, suspending the proclamation is the best remedy, considering the high number of candidates facing disqualification cases.

He noted that the Comelec still needs to observe due process and will not immediately disqualify candidates without valid proof.

Under the Omnibus Election Code, candidates with the highest number of votes shall be proclaimed upon completion of election returns.

The Comelec has already filed 165 petitions for disqualification and issued 7,103 show cause orders against candidates accused of premature campaigning. The poll body also issued 341 show cause orders against those who allegedly engaged in illegal campaigning.

Candidate shot dead

In Aguilar town, Pangasinan, a candidate running for barangay captain was shot dead by an unidentified gunman past 11 p.m. on Sunday night.

Reports gathered from the Pangasinan PNP provincial office identified the fatality as Arneil Flormata, 41, a resident of Barangay Bayaoas and running for barangay captain.

Initial investigation said that prior to the incident, Flormata was attending the miting de avance at Sitio Casagatan. After delivering his speech, the victim walked toward his sport utility vehicle (SUV) parked beside the road to change his shirt.

When the victim alighted from his SUV, he was shot once by the still unidentified gunman using a .45 pistol. The gunman then fled aboard a getaway tricycle driven by his cohort.

The victim sustained a bullet wound to the head and was rushed to a hospital in Mangatarem but was declared dead on arrival by the attending doctor.

Police immediately conducted dragnet and checkpoint operations for the possible arrest of the suspect.

Authorities are conducting further investigation to determine the possible motive behind the killing, determine the identity and the immediate arrest of the suspects.

Meanwhile, Pangasinan Police Director Col. Jeff Fanged said that police will go after the culprits in the killing of Flormata. He said they will leave no stone unturned as he vowed to do everything to solve the case. — Mayen Jaymalin, Cesar Ramirez

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