AFP, PNP tighten security measures for arrival of PCOS machines in Surigao Norte, other parts of Mindanao

The Philippine National Police (PNP) and the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) in Northern and Northeastern Mindanao (Regions 10 and 13) have tightened their security measures for the arrival next week of Precinct Count Optical Scan (PCOS) machines for the May 10, 2010 national and local elections.

Chief Supt. Lino D. Calingasan, regional director of Police Regional Office 13 (PRO 13), said "tactical preparations to ensure the safe deployment of all PCOS machines at various areas in the two regions" have already been made in coordination with Chief Supt. Danilo T. Empedrad, PRO 10 regional director, Maj. Gen. Mario F. Chan, commanding general of the Army’s Fourth Infantry (Diamond) Division, and the Commission on Elections (Comelec).

The PNP and the AFP said they are paying special attention to areas under "close watch" or "immediate concern" such as Surigao del Norte, Surigao del Sur, Lanao del Norte and some parts of Bukidnon, Misamis Oriental and Agusan del Sur.

Government authorities have also mobilized their respective joint security coordinating center (JSCC) forces in the deployment of the PCOS machines.

In Northeastern Mindanao, the PRO 13 has already mobilized at least 3,764 policemen to help ensure peaceful and orderly elections, Calingasan said.

Meanwhile, Col. Leo Cresente Ferrer, commanding officer of the Army’s 601st Infantry Brigade, said a JSCC has been established at the Mindanao Civic Center in Tubod, Lanao del Norte, where election-related activities are being monitored.

In a briefing Monday afternoon in Iligan City, retired Army Col. Valentine Ragpala, and provincial and city Smartmatic security coordinators said at least 624 PCOS machines will be deployed for the more than 700 voting centers in Lanao del Norte.

Iligan City alone will have 173 PCOS machines for 46 voting centers in 44 barangays, it was learned.

It was also learned that the PCOS machines will be stored upon arrival in Misamis Occidental and in Cagayan de Oro City. The deployment timetable will be from May 3 to 9.

The AFP, PNP and Comelec said that among the closely-watched municipalities in Lanao del Norte are Tangcal, Maigo, Kolambugan, Pantao Ragat, Matungao and Kauswagan.

In a related development, security measures have also been tightened around the Agus plants in Lanao provinces, where the Mindanao grid is located, to ensure uninterrupted power supply during the Election Day. (muc/PIA-Caraga)

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