By KIMBERLIE NGABIT QUITASOL
BAGUIO CITY — Police engaging in partisan politics will be relieved warned Philippine National Police (PNP) General Oscar Albayalde.
The topmost police official was at Camp Bado Dangwa in La Trinidad, Benguet on Mar 29 for a command conference with the Police Regional Office Cordillera (PROCor) on election matters.
He reiterated that police officers cannot provide personal security or escort politicians, even those who are incumbent, unless authorized by the Commission on Elections (Comelec).
“And if authorized they must be in proper uniform,” he explained, adding that politicians can have a maximum of two police escorts.
If proven to have violated the directive, the erring officer, including with their superiors will be relieved he said.
Albayalde bared to the media that he has ordered the relief of a police officer in Danglas, Abra for providing security to a politician without Comelec authorization. He did not name the police or politician.
“What we can provide is area security in critical areas,” the PNP chief said, stressing their responsibility is to secure crowded and identified critical areas.
Monitoring vote buying, PAGs
Albayalde also disclosed that he has instructed the police force to probe reports of vote buying. According to him, reports of vote buying have been pouring in as early as January.
He advised his men to check on all politicians.
“Check on everyone, even the candidates who complain about vote buying, to be fair, dahil baka nagsumbong tapos siya rin pala (because the informer might also be guilty of the act),” he said.
Albayalde likewise directed PROCor to validate reports of alleged private armed groups (PAGs) in Abra.
“The police is monitoring 17 alleged private armed groups in Abra,” he said.
The PNP chief was in Abra last a day before he met PROCor officials as part of the PNP’s preparation for the upcoming election. The Comelec placed the province under category red due alleged presence of private armed groups.
Under Comelec En Banc Resolution 10481, areas placed under Category Red, the highest classification for an election hotspot, have experience election-related violence in the last two elections, with intense political rivalry, possibility of employment of PAGs and with serious armed threats from rebel and terrorist groups.
The commission can declare control over the affected area and direct the augmentation of personnel of the PNP and AFP in areas under the said category.
Albayalde said that he met with opposing political camps in Abra during his visit and the candidates committed to help keep the upcoming election peaceful.
“Hopefully this election, there will be zero election-related incidents in the province, that would be a good start, probably by next election, Abra will not be listed among the hotspots,” he said.
In the 2013 and 2016 elections, Abra not included in the list of election hotspots.
Albayalde said Abra lacks 400 police officers so they have assigned one company of Special Action Forces to the province. The official added that apart from Abra, there are no other areas of concern on the Cordillera.
“Talk to your men”
ALbayalde told police directors that constant communication will help greatly in keeping them in check.
“Constantly talk to your people, remind them of the dos and don’ts, take time to inspect your people,” he told the police officers present in the command conference.
Albayalde encourages police commanders to maintain constant personal communication with their subordinates.
“The problem with us is we delegate everything that we lose touch with our people,” he said.
He reminded the PROCor officials to “keep tab of the 190,000 police officers because the national leadership can not do it on their own.” # nordis.net