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PNP eyes special police unit for ARMM during election period

The Philippine National Police has recommended the creation of a Police Special Action Unit to handle possible election-related violent incidents in the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao.

PNP chief Director General Ricardo Maquez made the recommendation during his visit to Camp Salipada Pendatun last Friday, noting that the Commission on Elections considers the provinces of Lanao del Sur and Maguindanao as "areas of immediate concern."

He said that intense political rivalries among politicians with private armed groups (PAGs), and the proliferation of loose firearms are among the parameters for the creation of a special police unit under the direction of the Comelec.

According to Marquez, the ARMM has the most number of PAGs among the regions in the country.

“It means an additional deployment of troops, resources, and logistics will be poured as election [2016] draws near,” he said.

Moreover, he said that PNP has offered the services of a mediation team to lessen the tensions among warring political clans during the campaign period and election day.

He stressed that he doesn't  want police personnel to serve as the Board of Election Inspectors (BEI’s) as there are more things cops must do during the conduct of the polls.

Thus, he said he is allowing ground commanders to do the actual threat assessment rather than the usual practice of relying  only on institutional knowledge of the situation on the ground.

“There were some gaps in 2013 some areas that we have included in 15 priority provinces, we found out later they're not supposed to be there, so we ask all the commanders in the ground to do the threat assessment,” he said.

Marquez also appealed for more civilian cooperation as threat groups like the Abu Sayyaf, Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters, and other lawless elements will possibly sabotage  the ARMM polls. —Ferdinandh Cabrera/LBG, GMA News