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PIA Press Release
2008/08/05

AFP set for ARMM elections in Sulu

Sulu (5 August) -- The military in Sulu is now set to carry out its specific duties relative to the conduct of the ARMM Elections on Monday. As deputized by the Commission on Elections, the military is required by law to perform its responsibility in ensuring the free, orderly, honest, peaceful, and credible conduct of this election.

Joint Task Force Comet Commander Maj Gen Juancho M Sabban said that the security of the people is at all times the paramount responsibility of the military. Hence, the government forces are all out prepared to provide assistance to its police counterparts in the maintenance of peace and order during the election.

"We are here to reinforce the police, under COMELEC authority, to prevent election violence. We don't expect for any unpleasant incident, but we maintain our readiness to respond to any contingency," Maj Gen Sabban stressed.

While the military organization supports the COMELEC in its efforts to enhance the holding of peaceful and orderly elections, it shall not be directly or indirectly involved in the conduct of the electoral process.

"While ascertaining the safety and wellbeing of the civilians, meddling with the political procedures or whatsoever is out of our business. Peace and order during the duration of the whole electoral process - these are our mission to accomplish," he clarified.

The Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) between the Department of National Defense and the Commission on Elections stipulates the limits of military's involvement in the ARMM elections. Military camps cannot be used as polling places, and soldiers cannot preside over polling counts. The MOA also bans soldiers from providing security for candidates.

Meanwhile, the military will set up additional checkpoints in areas where security threats are high. Some units of the AFP will be securing polling precincts per order of the COMELEC "to man, patrol, and provide military visibility" in areas identified under serious armed threat. Gun ban will also be enforced.

"The military shall enforce the firearms ban in order to dissuade or thwart threat groups including goons/private armies of political candidates from harming the voters and to prevent any occurrence of sabotage operations against the electoral process" the Commander said. (42CRU, 4CRG, CRSAFP/PIA-BASULTA) [top]

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