■ Ofelia C. Empian
Around 22,000 government personnel and dozens of volunteers from the Cordillera are ready to serve in the 2023 barangay and Sangguniang Kabataan elections on Oct. 30.
Directors B/Gen. David Peredo, Jr. of the Police Regional Office-Cordillera, Julius Torres of the Commission on Elections, Estela Cariño of the Department of Education, and the Army’s 503rd Brigade Commander B/Gen. Santiago Enginco led the simultaneous multi-agency send-off and turnover ceremonies of government forces and resources on Oct. 23 at Camp Bado Dangwa, La Trinidad, Benguet.
Part of the personnel deployed in various areas in the region are 6,142 from the PRO-Cordillera and national support units; 853 from the Armed Forces of the Philippines; and 14,912 from DepEd.
Peredo has urged his men to be apolitical and never let their guard down during the elections as threats might arise. He said the region is generally known as a peaceful area to conduct elections.
He reminded the police personnel to also put their safety as a priority to ensure that everyone is secured.
Around 333 personnel will serve as augmentation and standby forces for the polls.
Of this, 30 are from the AFP; 41 from the Regional Mobile Force Battalion; 16 from the Special Weapons, Arms and Tactics; 13 from the Explosives and Ordnance Division; 76 from Civil Disturbance Management; five from the Regional Highway Patrol Unit; five from Regional Communication and Electronics; and 147 from the Reactionary Standby Support Force (RSSF).
The 100 personnel from the RSSF are bound for Abra while the others are off to replace other personnel who were relieved from their post for having relatives who are running for an elective position.
The others are standby personnel who are ready to be deployed in case of a need for additional personnel in the provinces.
Cariño asked the armed forces to take care of the teachers who will be serving as electoral boards, especially those who will serve in Abra, where some barangays are under the list of areas of concerns of the region.
Torres, meanwhile, urged all personnel to go beyond their duty as they will take part in history.
“We are all public servants, we are here to serve the public,” Torres said.