PHILIPPINE National Police (PNP) put up Tuesday checkpoints in some 3,500 localities across the country to intensify election security operations as the official campaign period starts.

PNP chief Director General Jesus Verzosa said the National Task Force Hope 2010 would have at its disposal the tactical units of the PNP, such as the Special Action Force, Regional Public Safety Management Battalions and Provincial Public Safety Management Companies, for police interdiction operations against partisan armed groups (PAGs), domestic threat groups and gun ban violators.

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The checkpoints are supported by various tactical units, combat personnel, light armored assets, including the newly-acquired PNP helicopters with night flying capability and police commandos capable of rapid deployment and heliborne insertion into areas of operation and hostile targets.

Verzosa put to task the PNP tactical units at the regional and provincial levels under the operational supervision of the Directorates for Integrated Police Operations (Dipo) as lead units in the campaign against PAGs and other threats to the holding of clean and orderly national elections in May.

As the nationwide Commission on Elections (Comelec)-imposed gunban enters its 30th day on Wednesday, the National Election Monitoring and Action Center (Nemac) has accounted for a total of 743 gunban violators arrested.

Among the violators are 52 policemen, 29 soldiers, 31 government officials and 631 civilians.

The PNP has confiscated 618 firearms, 23 explosive devices, 164 bladed weapons and 762 gun replica in checkpoint and weapons check operations.

PNP spokesman Chief Superintendent Leonardo Espina said election security operations by the police over the past 30 days had significantly surpassed its own record of operational accomplishments during the 2007 and 2004 national elections.

Espina said the Nemac continues to receive daily reports of gun ban violation despite repeated warnings of criminal prosecution and severe administrative sanctions for PNP, Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) and government personnel who will violate the Comelec-imposed gun ban.

Espina said the Comelec checkpoints have proven to be effective in the anti-criminality and gun control campaign of the PNP against syndicated crime groups, local insurgents and holders of loose firearms.

Before dawn on Tuesday, three armed suspects on board a stolen taxi were killed in an encounter with elements of the Quezon City Police District that was conducting checkpoint operations along Congressional Avenue.

In Candelaria, Quezon, , eight armed suspects believed to be members of an organized crime group engaged in robbery and kidnapping operating in Calabarzon were gunned down Monday after running through a PNP-AFP checkpoint.