The military and police on Friday reactivated a task force for peaceful and orderly barangay and Sangguniang Kabataan (SK) elections on October 25.
Called Task Force Honest, Orderly, and Peaceful Elections (Task Force HOPE-2010 Bravo), the joint task force will focus on about 2,300 areas on their watchlist and some 107 private armed groups in the country.
Those present at the signing of the Joint Letter Directive (JLD) establishing the Joint Security Control Centers (JSCC) nationwide, were:
Commission on Elections Commissioner Rene Sarmiento;
Philippine National Police chief Deputy Director General Raul Bacalzo, and
Armed Forces of the Philippines chief of staff Ricardo David.
Under the agreement, the entire 135,000-strong police force will become deputies of the Comelec in overseeing and supervising all election security operations.
Radio dzBB quoted Bacalzo as saying the government hopes to "replicate" the security measures that were laid out for the last May 10 automated elections which saw a significant drop in election-related violence.
Gun ban from Sept 25 to Nov 10
The signing of the directive came hours before the nationwide gun ban takes effect at 12:01 on Saturday, September 25.
The gun ban for the October 25 elections will last from September 25 to November 10, or 30 days before and 15 days after the synchronized barangay and SK elections.
The ban includes the automatic suspension of all permit to carry firearms outside of residences.
Only authorized law enforcemers on duty and in proper police uniform will be allowed to carry firearms.
Unlike the May 10 automated elections, the synchronized barangay and SK elections will be done manually and would cover some 40,000 villages.
This would require members of the task force to escort poll officials in the transport of election paraphernalia.
Before the May 10 automated polls, the PNP said they have discovered around 132 active private armed groups at that time.
While they have already dismantled a handful of these before May, the police and military admitted they still continue to discover new armed groups. –VVP, GMANews.TV