PHILIPPINE National Police (PNP) Chief Oscar Albayalde assured Monday, February 11, that security preparations for the upcoming campaign period for the May elections are already in place.
“Well, handang-handa naman na tayo doon sa ating mga security preparations. I think prepared naman na tayo even yung mga deployment ng ating mga tao, yung mga names nila yun na lang pinapolish natin pero with regards to preparations, of course, prepare na prepared na tayo,” Albayalde said.
“So far, we have no incidents. Hopefully, it will continue to be no (recorded) election-related violent incidents,” he added.
The campaign period for senatorial bets will start Tuesday, February 12, while local candidates may start campaigning on March 29.
Meantime, Albayalde said their new list of areas of concerns and hotspot due to election-related incident is still being validated in coordination with the Armed Forces of the Philippines and Commission on Elections.
“Actually, nadagdagan pa. We have a new list. We will be providing the public with a new one. Meron tayong vinavalidate na bago based doon sa bagong parameters na binigay sa atin ng Comelec,” he said.
Albayalde earlier said 19 areas were placed under election watchlist areas where suspected election-related violence happened.
An area may also be included in the list due to the presence of armed groups and other threat groups, such as the communist rebels, which may be utilized by politicians for their advantage on the elections.
Among the areas of concern are the towns of Sudipen and Balaoan in Launion; Jones in Isabela; Lemery in Batangas; Roxas town in Oriental Mindoro; Balud and Dimasalang in Masbate; and Daraga town in Albay.
The list also includes areas in Mindanao, such as Pagadian City in Zamboanga del Sur; Cagayan de Oro City; Hadji Mohammad Ajul, Tipo-Tipo and Lantawan in Basilan; Sultan Dumalundong, Mamasapano, Shariff Aguak, Shariff Saydona Mustapha, Datu Unsay in Maguindanao; and Marawi City.
Meanwhile, Albayalde reminded his men to remain apolitical and non-partisan.
“Sa ating mga members ng PNP, palagi natin sinasabi sa kanila to remain apolitical. Hindi political, apolitical. Huwag silang pumanig kung kanino and, of course, we will be fast in relieving kung makita natin na commanders na kumikiling sa kahit na sinong kandidato,” Albayalde said.
Albayalde’s reminder is in accordance to the order of President Rodrigo Duterte to the police and military personnel not to engage in any political matters and to remain “strictly neutral.”
“The Armed Forces, the police, and the uniformed personnel of government, I am asking you not to indulge in partisan politics. Wala tayong susuportahan,” he said in a speech earlier.
However, during the launch of the PNP’s Kabataan Kontra Droga at Terorismo (KKDAT) at the PNP headquarters in Camp Crame, the PNP got former special assistant to the President and 2019 senatorial bet Christopher Lawrence “Bong” Go as the guest of honor and key speaker.
The event, which aims to form a national youth movement against illegal drugs and terrorism, was attended by hundreds of college of students.
During his speech, Go also vowed continuous support and to continue being a bridge between the people and Duterte.
After the program, Go had a meet and greet with the students and conducted a press conference where he denied using the PNP for his campaign.
“Pagpasok ko pa lang, sinabi ko na wag niyo po ako bigyan ng arrival honors...Sabi ko pumunta ako as invited guest only and as private citizen or maybe as former secretary,” he said.
Albayalde, on the other hand, said he sees nothing wrong in Go’s appearance in the camp and during the said event.
“Well, ‘yung sa kanya dito is member sya of the ACPI (association of chiefs of police of the Philippines Inc.) being the honorary chairman of the ACPI kasi. And in fact, hindi pa naman ito election period kaya nga we will be very sensitive on that pagdating ng election period,” he said.
In a text message, police community relations deputy director Senior Superintendent Bartolome Bustamante clarified inviting Go has nothing to do with politics.
“No, it has nothing to do with politics, KKDAT has long been implemented in Davao and now we are making the project nationwide, as a tool to engage the youth in the campaign against illegal drugs and terrorism, which Bong Go been espousing in Davao Region. Besides, he was invited in his capacity as the chairman of the ACCPI,” he said. (SunStar Philippines)