PHILIPPINE National Police (PNP) Chief Oscar Albayalde is optimistic that the May 2019 midterm elections would be peaceful because of preparations made by the 190,000-strong police force nationwide.
In his visit to the provinces of Ilocos Sur and Ilocos Norte as well as to the Cordillera region, Albayalde said the PNP is monitoring the province of Abra and Kalinga where possible election related violence might occur prior to the conduct of the May polls.
“One of our concerns is the Province of Abra because of the heated rivalry between opposing rivals aside from the presence of private armed groups (PAG) which maybe one of the reasons why Comelec categorized the area under red category,” Albayalde said.
During the command conference conducted at Camp Dangwa in Benguet Province, the PNP Chief noted a number of PAGs in Abra monitored by the Police Regional Office – Cordillera (PRO-Cor).
“There is actually a list not only coming from the national headquarters but also from the provincial level wherein they are now on the lookout for 17 alleged private armed groups in the province,” Albayalde stated.
Albayalde said the PNP will soon deploy personnel coming from the regional and other provincial Mobile Force Command to augment areas in the region needing additional manpower to man polling centers in the region.
“As of this time, based on the presentation by the Provincial Director of Kalinga and Abra, they are lacking in manpower who will be guarding polling areas there and the available manpower from the regional and provincial mobile groups will be assigned there as needed,” Albayalde explained.
Albayalde reiterated to police officers and personnel to desist from providing personal security to all political candidates.
The police general also confirmed the deployment of 15 police personnel in Lagayan, Abra to act as members of the electoral boards in place of teachers.