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)