BAGUIO CITY— The Barangay Peacekeeping Action Teams (BPATs) will play an important role in giving security, safety, and comfort to the almost 7,000 delegates to the annual Cordillera Administrative Region Athletic Association (CARAA) meet in Apayao on February 27 to March 5, a police official said Wednesday.

“They will be assigned with the police in all places of engagement — billeting, venues, eco-tourism attraction — during the week-long sports event with the other trained uniformed and non-uniformed personnel,” Supt. Jefferson Cariaga, Apayao Police Provincial Office’s deputy director for administration, said during the weekly Kapihan sa Baguio.

Cariaga said like the police, the BPAT members or the force multipliers have undergone training.

“We have provided capability-building courses for our force multipliers for the upcoming hosting of CARAA. They will have a significant role in ensuring the safety of our athletes, coaches and their families,” he added.

Cariaga said the training given to the force multipliers is the same as that provided to members of the Provincial Police Mobile Force and newly-hired policemen, who have been assigned to the province.

“They have received training so they can be highly mobilized,” he added.

Cariaga added that barangay watchmen in four towns in Apayao — Flora, Sta. Marcela, Pudtol and Luna — are highly mobile as the provincial government earlier provided them with patrol vehicles.

Immediately after the 2018 CARAA, Apayao volunteered to the Department of Education-Cordillera to host this year’s event.

Cariaga said that despite Apayao’s low crime rate, the training and security preparations are necessary to deter crimes, to which big events are susceptible.

He said Apayao does not have any peace and order issue, not even political matters that could cause possible concerns.

“The province of Apayao is the most peaceful province next to Batanes. The province also holds the lowest crime volume in the Cordillera,” Cariaga said.

Aside from the force multipliers, Cariaga said the provincial police requested augmentation from the Police Regional Office at Camp Dangwa and from the Philippine National Police support units in Apayao.

Meanwhile, Governor Elias Bulut Jr. urged politicians not to bring armed security escorts.

“My province is very peaceful. Pero kahit na peaceful ang lugar namin, ayaw namin na may magdadala ng gulo (But even if our place is peaceful, we do not want anybody to bring with them any peace and order problem),” Bulut said.

“Everyone is invited. However, they need to adhere to the prescribed rules and regulations in the conduct of the activities to ensure orderliness and prevent the unnecessary interruption while the events are ongoing,” the governor said.

DepEd chief to grace sports meet 

Meanwhile, Department of Education (DepEd) Secretary Leonor Briones is expected to grace the CARAA meet as a guest speaker.

“We have scheduled the opening program in the morning because we know that Secretary Briones does not stay up late,” Georaloy Palao-ay of the DepEd-CAR Public Affairs Division and deputy Regional Sports Coordinator said in a phone interview.

He said the organizing committee also prepared a short and simple opening program on February 27, focusing on the province’s culture, people and the place.

He said Briones will be accompanied by other DepEd officials to visit the schools in the province.

Palao-ay added that based on initial information, Briones will also visit Kalinga schools, after Apayao.

Apayao will host the CARAA for the second time since the region’s grassroots sports event was organized 30 years ago. It first hosted the event in 2013.

Now a peaceful province

Governor Elias Bulut Jr. during the Kapihan sa Baguio which featured the 2019 CARAA said that Apayao’s tag in the 80s as heavily infested with New People’s Army rebels has been deleted for good.

“This is our way of showing that Apayao is a peaceful place and venue for events as well as a possible host to businesses,” Bulut said.

Bulut said Apayao was struck by both Typhoons Ompong and Rosita on the last quarter of 2018 but they were able to cope with the preparation with DepEd’s immediate release of the PHP50-million quick response fund.

Last week, Provincial Administrator Vincent Talattag said they are now 80 percent in the preparation and will be 95 percent by end of January.

The tartan rubber track for the athletics events is currently being installed for the sports event. (PNA)