By Masiding Noor Yahya
COTABATO CITY – Police authorities in the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM) have created two special operations task groups to help ensure peaceful and orderly national and local elections.
Brig. Gen. Arthur R Cabalona, Police Regional Office (PRO)-BARMM director, said on Tuesday the task groups were created specifically for Maguindanao and Lanao del Sur provinces, where some places categorized by police as “areas of concern” have been identified.
Cabalona, who will head the special task groups, said the Regional Special Operation Task Group (RSOTG) for Cotabato City and Maguindanao (COMAG) and the RSOTG-Lanao del Sur (RSOTG-LDS) will act as added security layer for the polls.
Cabalona designated Brig. Gen. Pablo Labra, PRO-BARMM deputy director for administration, as RSOTG-COMAG commander while Colonel Jeffrey Fernandez, PRO-BARMM deputy director for operations, as head of RSOTG LDS.
“The creation of the RSOTGs was due to the presence of high-risk factors in the area such as intense political rivalry, private armed groups, criminal gangs, the proliferation of loose firearms, and threat groups,” Cabalona said.
He said the RSOTGs are expected to help prevent and address election-related incidents that may occur in the region, particularly in Lanao Del Sur, Maguindanao, and Cotabato City.
Cabalona reiterated that PRO BARMM, together with its counterpart in the Armed Forces of the Philippines, is determined “to provide a safe environment so the people of BARMM can safely exercise their rights to vote.” (With PNA)