PNP alert level up as local campaign period begins Friday

Robie de Guzman   •   March 28, 2019   •   1464

MANILA, Philippines – The Philippine National Police (PNP) has placed its forces on heightened alert in preparation for the start of the campaign period for local bets on Friday, March 28.

During the heightened alert, police visibility across the country will be intensified, the duty hours of police personnel are extended and leaves of absence are cancelled.

PNP Spokesperson Police Colonel Bernard Banac explained the increased police presence and ground operations, especially in areas under the control of the Commission on Elections (Comelec), aims to prevent the occurrence of election-related crimes as local campaign and elections tend to get more heated.

“Inaasahan natin na magiging mainit ang magiging kampanya sa local na level subalit ang PNP ay nakahanda na tumugon sa lahat ng pangangailangan, sa mga insidente maaaring mangyari,” Banac said.

(We expect that the looming local campaign period will get more heated, but the PNP is ready to respond to all possible scenarios.)

Banac added that they will closely monitor the status of the so-called election hotspots in the country.

The PNP has identified more than 700 hotspots for the 2019 midterm elections when the official campaign period for national candidates began last February 12.

Of this number, there are 223 areas of concern or under yellow category, which means there is an intense political rivalry or a history of election-related incident in these areas.

Orange category or areas of immediate concern due to serious armed threat or presence of rebels and terrorists cover 382 barangays; while more than 90 were placed under red category or areas of grave concern for exhibiting combined factors of the first two categories.

Last week, Comelec declared the entire Mindanao as an election hotspot under category red due to serious armed threats made by rebels and terrorists groups such as the New People’s Army and the Abu Sayyaf Group.

READ: Comelec declares entire Mindanao, other areas as 2019 poll hotspots

The PNP, however, assured that its forces are ready to respond to any poll-related violence that may arise in the run-up to the Midterm Elections slated on May 13.

“Kung meron mang sumiklab na karahasan lalo na sa mga nasa red category o areas of grave concern ay nakahanda po ang buong PNP at kaagapay natin ang AFP na rumesponde sa anomang pangyayari,” Banac assured.

(In case violence breaks out especially in areas under red category or areas of grave concern, the entire PNP force is ready, with the help of the AFP [Armed Forces of the Philippines], to respond to any scenario)

The PNP also urged the candidates anew to strictly observe election rules to avoid any untoward incidents.

Policemen are also reminded to remain apolitical or refrain from engaging in any political campaign or word war among election bets. – Robie de Guzman (with details from Lea Ylagan)

Suspected MILF lost command member nabbed in Zamboanga del Norte – PNP

Robie de Guzman   •   April 23, 2021

MANILA, Philippines — A suspected member of the notorious lost command of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) was arrested in Zamboanga del Norte, the Philippine National Police (PNP) said Friday.

In a statement, PNP chief General Debold Sinas identified the suspect as 37-year old Kayser Martinez alias Alihamra Martinez, who was said to be a former member of the MILF lost command group operating in Siocon and Sirawai towns in the Zamboanga Peninsula.

Martinez was arrested on Wednesday during an operation jointly conducted by elements of the Regional Mobile Force Battalion 9 and Siocon Municipal Police Station by virtue of warrant of arrest under criminal case number 232 for the crime of multiple murder issued by the RTC 9, Branch 6, of Dipolog City, Zamboanga Del Norte.

Citing court records, Sinas said Martinez was involved in the massacre of four civilians last August 3, 1999, in Sitio Guisakan, Barangay D. Reconalla, Siocon, Zamboanga Del Norte with his former MILF Lost Command Leaders Hairulla Hassan alias Hayron Hassan and Eddie Namenso alias Commander Liwayway.

They were also among the perpetrators of the daring attack on Siocon municipality last May 4, 2003, that resulted in casualties and damages in the municipality.

Currently, Martinez is a member of Hassan Group criminal gang allegedly led by Anderson Hassan alias Commander Sabaya, cousin of former notorious leader Hairulla Hassan who are at the same time eminently monitored tying up with the Local Terrorist Groups (LTGs) based in Panabutan, Sirawai, Zamboanga del Norte.

“Manhunt operations against the leader and other members of the criminal gang are underway to prevent them from further victimizing innocent people,” Sinas said.

Martinez is presently detained for further interrogation.

Appropriate charges will be filed against him in court, the PNP said.

Suspected BIFF bomber nabbed in Maguindanao police ops

Robie de Guzman   •   April 22, 2021

MANILA, Philippines – The man allegedly behind the series of bombing incidents in Isulan, Sultan Kudarat has been arrested in a counter-terrorism operation, the Philippine National Police (PNP) said Thursday.

PNP chief General Debold Sinas identified the suspect as Norton Saptula, 23, an alleged member of the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighter-Karialan Faction under chief staff Sukarno Sapal alias Diok.

He was said to be involved in the bombing incidents that transpired on August 28, 2018 in Brgy. Kalawag 3, Isulan, Sultan Kudarat that resulted in 36 wounded civilians and three deaths.

He was also accused of involvement in another incident on September 2, 2018 in Brgy. Kalawag 2, Isulan, Sultan Kudarat that resulted in 14 wounded civilians and two deaths.

Sinas said Saptula was also the 5th most wanted person in the SOCCSKSARGEN Region.

He was arrested on Wednesday in Poblacion, Ampatuan, Maguindanao when operating troops served a warrant of arrest against him for three counts of complex crime of murder with multiple frustrated murder.

The PNP said Saptula was booked at Ampatuan Municipal Police Station and was turned over to Isulan Municipal Police Station for documentation and proper disposition.

“The arrest of Saptula is a setback in the atrocities of the BIFF operating in Maguindanao area and nearby provinces. Moreover, this successful operation would likely affect the planned attacks of local and foreign terrorist organizations,” Sinas said.

Sinas says PNP won’t interfere with ‘private sector initiatives’

Robie de Guzman   •   April 22, 2021

MANILA, Philippines – Philippine National Police (PNP) chief General Debold Sinas has assured the public that police will not interfere with any ‘voluntary private sector initiative’ that seeks to provide the basic needs of people severely affected by the coronavirus pandemic.

Sinas did not explicitly mention community pantries in various parts of the country but he said the PNP “fully supports such expression of Bayanihan culture and Filipino spirit of compassion.”

“Hindi makikialam ang PNP sa aktibidad ng mga pribadong grupo na mamahagi ng ayuda sa mga tao,” he said in a statement.

“[W]e will continue to extend utmost assistance to ensure smooth and orderly operations of private sector outreach activities with greater emphasis on the health and safety of both benefactors and beneficiaries of these public endeavors,” he added.

The PNP chief, however, slammed “apparent attempts by certain quarters to create mass hysteria by propagating falsehood and fake news over cyberspace.”

“These persons will be unmasked, investigated and their motives probed,” he said.

“Hindi namin palalampasin ang ganitong pagpapalaganap ng kasinungalingan upang magsulong ng kanilang layunin,” he added.

Sinas’ statement comes after an organizer of a community pantry in Quezon City claimed of being “red-tagged” by government authorities.

The PNP chief also promoted their similar efforts in giving to those in need, saying the continuing implementation of the PNP Food Bank Project has benefitted some 35,512 families and 8,511 other individuals.

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