By Jerry Alcayde
CALAPAN CITY, Oriental Mindoro – The Philippine Army (PA) has identified at least 31 barangays in Oriental Mindoro which are possible election hotspots due to the presence and influence of the New People’s Army (NPA) which it claimed will again resort to collection of revolutionary tax and permit-to-campaign fees.
Lieutenant Colonel Dennis C. Gutierrez, battalion commander of PA’s 4th Infantry Battallion said that they have also identified the “baseng gerilya” (guerilla base) of the NPA where it freely operates and “sonang gerilya” (guerilla zone) where encounters between the rebel group and the military usually take place.
Gutierrez said that based on their report for the last quarter of 2017, barangays Hagan and Lisap in Bongabong, barangay Panaytayan in Mansalay and barangay Binli in Bulalacao are “threatened barangays” where heavy NPA activities were noted.
Gutierrez said the Philippine Army will strengthen its coordination with the Philippine National Police (PNP) to ensure peaceful and orderly elections this coming May as he declared that the NPA has only 41 armed combatants with 57 assorted firearms.
The Philippine Army said that 70 percent of these combatants are Mangyans while 30 percent came from lowlands.
Meanwhile, Senior Superintendent Christopher C. Birung, provincial director of Oriental Mindoro Police Provincial Office (PPO) said they have laid down a comprehensive security plan to ensure public safety by implementing the resolutions issued by the Commission on Elections (COMELEC) such as the ban on firearms which officially started on April 14 and will last until May 21. The prohibition on liquor consumption will be implemented from May 13 to 14.
“Your PNP will implement the law and uphold the rule of law. We will be non-partisan so that every voter can exercise his or her right of suffrage while we preserve peace and order in our community”, Sr. Supt. Birung stressed during a recent Provincial Election Monitoring Action Center meeting attended by municipal election officers and his 15 chiefs of police held at the provincial capitol in Calapan.
Last Saturday, Chief Superintendent Emmanuel Luis D. Licup, regional director of Police Regional Office MIMAROPA personally supervised and inspected the personnel of Calapan City Police Station during the ceremonial kick-off on the implementation of COMELEC Gun Ban for the whole region.
Licup was accompanied by the members of his Command Group and Directorial Staff, Sr. Supt. Birung, Attorney John Mark B. Tambasacan, provincial election supervisor of Oriental Mindoro and Sonny Ramos, acting city election officer of Calapan City and members of the media.