PHILIPPINE National Police (PNP) Chief Oscar Albayalde visited on Thursday, March 28, the provinces of Abra, Ilocos Norte, Ilocos Sur and Benguet to inspect the security measures there for the upcoming May 13 elections.
“Doon sa Ilocos Sur, wala naman tayo masyadong nakitang problema. Everything is generally peaceful doon. Nakita naman natin that of the three provinces that we visited, preparado naman ang ating mga pulis doon,” he said in an interview when he arrived in La Trinidad, Benguet for a conduct of command conference on Friday, March 29.
“Ang concern nating isa is Abra dahil medyo mainit ‘yung mga opposing parties doon and there are allegations of PAGs (private armed groups) sa area na yun, kaya ito siguro ang reason bakit ang Comelec (Commission on Elections) ginawa na under red category itong buong province of Abra,” he added.
Albayalde said two PAGs with at least 17 members are being monitored by police in Abra to avoid them from being used by candidates for their advantage against their competitors.
He said at least 200 different caliber of firearms were turned over to the police in the province amid the Comelec gun ban and as part of security measure for the upcoming polls.
“Nakita natin in some areas, di naman nila kailangan ‘yung augmentation. Probably, ang isang malaki is Kalinga at Abra dahil as of this time, based sa presentation ng PD (provincial director) medyo kulang sila sa tao para bantayan ‘yung polling centers nila. ‘Yung regional mobile groups kung kinakailangan pati provincial mobile groups kung saan tahimik (yun ang idedeploy),” Albayalde said.
Albayalde said he also met with the opposing parties in Abra and they vowed to cooperate with the PNP for the peace and order in their area.
He also reminded the policemen in Abra and Kalinga to remain non-partisan, apolitical and to avoid joining political events amid receiving reports that there were cops who are “secretly” providing security to several candidates.
Earlier, the Comelec placed the entire Mindanao Island group, as well as Jones in Isabela, Lope de Vega in Northern Samar and the entire province of Abra under category red election hotspots.
Before meeting with the police officials in Benguet, Albayalde also conducted a short inspection in the area where he manned a checkpoint along with his men. (SunStar Philippines)