MINDANAO authorities called on the public to go out and vote as they assured that security forces are in place to maintain peace and order.

Joint meetings for a final check on election preparations were initiated last week by the military, police, the Commission on Elections, and other stakeholders. The meetings were held in different regions in the country’s south, tagged as the Comelec as en election hotspot and where martial law is still in place for two years now.

In a statement, Major General Cirilito E. Sobejana, commander of Joint Task Force Central, stressed that their role is to “provide a democratic space” to “let democracy work.”

“We should anticipate any challenge that we may encounter and we should be resilient to any change that might occur during the exercise of electoral process,” Mr. Sobejana said.

For his part, Lt. General Arnel B. Dela Vega, Western Mindanao Command WestMinCom) head, said, “The Western Mindanao Command through all of its Joint Task Forces firmly aspires for a peaceful and successful conduct of the national and local elections. We have already done it during the Barangay and SK (Sangguniang Kabataan) Elections in 2018 and we hope to do it again.”

“Nonetheless, our military operations against the different threat groups continue,” Mr. Dela Vega added.

WestMinCom covers the Zamboanga Peninsula Region, Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao, the province of Lanao del Norte, and parts of South Cotabato-Cotabato-Sultan Kudarat-Sarangani-General Santos City (SOCCSKSARGEN).

For the Eastern Mindanao Command, Lt. General Felimon T. Santos Jr. said aside from forces already on the ground, “Rapid Deployable Force and Quick Reaction Teams” at the regional, provincial and municipal levels have also been activated.

“Go out and vote come election time. With the close coordination of the PNP and Comelec, and the security mechanism we have set, we are assuring the general public that the Command will be working for the safe and secure conduct of election in Eastern Mindanao so that everyone will be allowed to exercise their freedom to elect their leaders without force and coercion,”Mr. Santos said.

EastMinCom is in charge of the regions of Davao, Caraga, and parts of SOCCSKSARGEN.

The Police Regional Office in Davao, meanwhile, announced that it is deploying more personnel in areas placed under heightened alert due to the threat of the communist armed group New People’s Army (NPA).

Col. Eden T. Ugale, police deputy regional director, said they are also monitoring the heated political situation in Davao del Sur and Davao del Norte.

“There is intense political rivalry in these two provinces,” said Mr. Ugale.

Davao City police chief Col. Alexander C. Tagum, meanwhile, said they have received reports that NPA members have been monitored to have “some movements.”

“Definitely we remind our people never to relax their guard,” said Mr. Tagum. — With reports from Maya M. Padillo and Carmelito Q. Francisco