By KIMBERLIE NGABIT-QUITASOL
BAGUIO CITY—Director General Oscar Albayalde, chief of the Philippine National Police (PNP) identified Abra to be among the perennial election “hotspots” in the country on Friday, May 3.
Albayalde convened a command conference with the regional police offices of the Cordillera, Ilocos and Cagayan Valley to discuss the peace situations in their regions. He said he has been going around the country to examine preparations made to ensure a peaceful election. He said the incidents were recorded in Bulacan, Nueva Ecija and Abra.
“Barangay elections is expected to be more personal and more intense, because it is usually among friends, family and neighbors at that,” he said.
Albayalde said that they will augment police officers in the perennial election hotspots. He said that one company of the Special Action Force have been deployed to Abra already. He added that the provincial directors were directed to intensify their “Oplan sita” and to put in place “massive checkpoints”.He also said that the Commission on Election (Comelec) can always request for additional police or soldiers to be deployed in areas where they deem needed.
Albayalde also mentioned that upon Comelec request, police officers can become election tellers instead of teachers in hotspot areas. He added that election officers can also request police officers to enter the polling area if needed.
He said that Kalinga has already requested. According to Police Regional Office Cordillera, six police officers will serve as special board of election tellers in Mabongtot, Lubuagan, Kalinga.
Albayalde said that the law prohibits police and other uniformed personnel inside the polling area but if the election officer requests for security they can enter.
The PNP have included some 5,744 villages all over the country in their election watchlist. He said that these villages may have intense political rivalry, recorded incidents of election-related violence such as killings and insurgency among others.
The Bicol region has the highest number of villages included in the watchlist with 1,258, followed by the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) with 832, and Central Luzon with 504. The Cordillera Administrative Region has 79.
Albayalde also warned the police here to “toe the line.”# nordis.net