MIMAROPA polls peaceful as NPA, PAGs went on the run—Apolinario

POLICE Regional Office 4-B director, Brigadier General Tomas C. Apolinario Jr. yesterday said they recorded a generally peaceful and orderly national and local elections in the region with no election-related incident recorded on E-Day despite threats posed by the New People’s Army and partisan armed groups.

“This is the most peaceful election since the last, and we will keep it that way,” said Apolinario, a member of Philippine Military Academy ‘Hinirang’ Class of 1987  as he congratulated his men, the Army’s 4th Infantry Battalion and 203rd Brigade and other government agencies and the local populace for helping them accomplish their job.

Big winners in the recent election were Mindoro Occidental Governor-elect Ed Gadiano of the Pederalismo ng Dugong Dakilang Samahan party who defeated PDP-Laban’s Mario Gene Mendiola by nearly 30,000 votes; Bonz Dolor of PDP-Laban who defeated Partido Feralismo ng Pilipinas gubernatorial candidate in Negros Oriental RU Umali by some 96,000 votes; Marinduque Gov.-elect Justice Velasco who defeated independent candidate Kuya Rey Velasco by over 32,000 votes; PDP-Laban’s Otik Riano who won as Romblon governor defeating Lakas’ Bong Fabella by nearly 12,000 votes and Palawan governor-elect JCA Alvarez of PDP-Laban who defeated PDDS candidate Arthur Venture by some 80,000 votes.

Apolinario said three days before the election, they recorded 10 incidents including two gun ban violation, one incident of a man found in possession of a grenade, three shooting incidents and four alleged vote-buying  cases in Palawan and Romblon provinces. He said three suspects were arrested for gun ban violation.

On Saturday last week, he said that they also investigated an incident in Oriental Mindoro were a personal bodyguard of a mayoralty candidate was shot dead.

Those incidents prompted the PRO4-B to take all necessary safeguards to prevent any effort to disrupt the polls. Apolinario said  4,690 policemen were deployed to secure different polling centers with Quick Reaction Forces on standby ready to be fielded should the need arise.

Apolinario said 100 percent of all election paraphernalia including Vote Counting Machines and non-accountable forms and official ballots have been returned to respective Treasurers’ Offices in Mimaropa.

Apolinario said that on E-Day, they monitored cases of malfunctioning VCMs and SD cards in Puerto Princesa City which triggered the conduct of manual voting at the Bacungan Elementary School. However, the problem on the malfunctioning cards was immediately addressed and had little effect in the voting process.

The PRO4-B director said only one violator of the gun ban was arrested on E-Day. Suspect Taha Rangaeg, a 49-year old casual employee of the El Nido Municipal Hall was arrested by  local police who acted on a tip from a concerned citizen.

When arrested, the suspect was found carrying a bag with a caliber .45 Jericho 941 pistol with two magazines containing 23 live ammunition.

The official said from January 13 to last Monday, they accounted for 724 persons wanted for various felonies as well as 49 for gun ban violation. The arrested include 587 wanted person and 73 for illegal drug trafficking.

Apolinario said they also seized 81 assorted firearms and 1,624 other deadly weapons during the period. Another 214 guns with expired licenses and 514 deadly weapons were also surrendered to the local police by their holders.

He said NPA guerrillas in the region also did not make any move last May 13.

The official said they have been pursuing the rebels jointly with the Army’s 4th Infantry Battalion to prevent them from forcibly campaigning for their candidates.