Security tightened in Lanao Norte as polls near

CAGAYAN DE ORO CITY -- Following the armed confrontation that occurred weeks before the May 13 elections, the provincial government of Lanao del Norte said it has further intensified security measures beginning on Tuesday to ensure that voters cast their ballots without fear of violence.

Provincial information officer Lyndon Calica said Tuesday that the shooting incident involving supporters of opposing political candidates in the Lanao del Norte town of Salvador on April 3 "must not be downplayed."

"Law enforcers must see to it that it won’t be repeated," Calica said of the shootout that injured four persons when supporters of mayoral candidates Farhani Tawantawan and Bangcola Umpa traded bullets.

The Tawantawan and Umpa families are known to be political rivals in Salvador.

But Calica said that except for Salvador and a few municipalities, the whole of Lanao del Norte cannot be considered as an election hotspot area.

“Lanao del Norte is a peaceful province, but we must be vigilant,” he said.

He said Gov. Imelda Quibranza-Dimaporo has directed local officials and police units to tighten the security in their respective areas.

Col. Surki Sereñas, Police Regional Office 10 (PRO-10) spokesperson, said they are closely monitoring the situation in Lanao del Norte as the mid-term elections near.

Sereñas said some areas in the province have been noted as having intense political rivalry, not just El Salvador.

In 2013, at least 13 people were killed and several others wounded when the convoy of Abdul Malik Manamparan, who was the mayor of Nunungan town, was attacked by an armed group on their way home from a campaign sortie.

Sereñas said they are ready to deploy more personnel from the Regional Mobile Force Battalion in Lanao del Norte if necessary.

He said that they are only waiting for the recommendation of the provincial or municipal police commanders to augment the police force in Lanao del Norte during the elections. (PNA)

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