BY KIMBERLIE NGABIT-QUITASOL
BAGUIO CITY— In Mabongtot village in Lubuagan town of Kalinga province, six police officers will act as Board of Election Tellers (BET) due to security issues that stems from an ongoing tribal war in the area.
Lawyer Dexter Cawis, the provincial election officer of Kalinga said this was the case even in the past elections in 2013 and 2016. “Teachers, other government officials and even registered voters in the village declined to serve as BETs because of fear so we requested the police,” he said.
Cawis said the six police officers were the same officers who manned the two polling precincts in Mabongtot village in the 2013 and 2016 elections. He said that the village has less than 500 registered voters. “The voters turn out in the past elections was about 80%,” he said.
He said that the police officers are registered voters of Kalinga province particularly in Tabuk City and Lubuagan town.
Mabongtot is one to two hours hike from Lubuagan’s town center. “It can only be reached on foot,” Cawis said.
PNP Director General Oscar Albayalde said during the command conference for police ground commanders of Cordillera, Ilocos and Cagayan Valley regions last week that while the law provides that police officers should stay 50 meters away from polling centers but will respond to all requests of the election officers especially where safety is concerned.
Mabongtot is not included in the watchlist or areas of concern of the Philippine National Police (PNP).
Abraham Battawang of the Corillera Elders Alliance said the tribal war between the Mabongtot and Lubuagan tribe is historical and has been on and off for decades now. He said that the two tribes decided on a ceasefire since 2014. # nordis.net