PNP chief creates special police unit in ARMM to ensure peaceful 2016 elections

By Noel Y. Punzalan and Edwin O. Fernandez

CAMP SK PENDATUN, Maguindanao, Dec. 13 (PNA) — Philippine National Police Director General Ricardo Marquez has ordered the creation of a Police Special Unit (SPU) that will work to ensure that next year’s elections in the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) will be peaceful and orderly.

Marquez, who visited PNP-ARMM regional office over the weekend, received security briefings ahead of next year’s balloting.

At least 70 of the 76 identified private armed groups (PAGs) in the country are found in the ARMM. These groups pose potential threats and could disrupt the 2016 national and local polls.

In ARMM, the provinces of Maguindanao and Lanao del Sur are considered “areas of immediate concern” while Basilan, Sulu and Tawi-Tawi are listed as “areas of concern.”

Marquez said PAGs could work as mercenaries to push for the interest of politicians in the locality.

“We should not allow that to happen,” Marquez told ARMM police officials and personnel.

He said the presence of PAGs, proliferation of guns, intense political rivalry could make the national elections bloody. These led to the creation of the SPU.

“The establishment of PSU means additional troops to be deployed, resources and logistics will be poured in ARMM as the election gets closer,” Marquez told reporters.

He also directed ARMM PNP, led by Regional Director Chief Supt. Ronald Estilles, to creation mediation teams that will lead in the resolution of clan wars and “rido” family feuds which are common in the region.

Marquez said the PNP is in the thick of preparations for the coming polls and learning from the experience in the 2010 and 2013 elections, new security plans have been prepared that PNP regional officials will continue to assess and evaluate as the election campaign period draws near.

He urged political leaders in the ARMM to cooperate with the local police in ensuring a peaceful atmosphere in the region throughout the campaign period. (PNA)