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Adhere to Comelec rules, PNP tells bets

August 20, 2023 Alfred P. Dalizon 302 views

PNPTHE Philippine National Police (PNP) headed by General Benjamin C. Acorda Jr. has called on all candidates to fully abide by the rules set by the Commission on Elections.

The PNP called on all candidates and their supporters to set an example to the public on how they should obey all campaign guidelines imposed by the Comelec.

During the May 2022 national and local elections, there were distinct Comelec rules issued during the campaign period particularly those requiring all bets and their supporters to comply with minimum public health standards as prescribed by the Department of Health during the pandemic years.

The prohibited acts under the in-person activities during the May 2022 polls include entering private dwelling for house-to-house campaigning even with the owner’s permission, crowding, handshaking or other forms of physical contact, taking selfies or photographs, that require proximity among people, and distributing food and drinks. The same goes for bigger campaign events.

The Comelec said that the election period begun last July 3 and lasts until November 14 this year while the campaign ban will be from July 8 to October 18.

The campaign period will be from October 19 to 28; the liquor ban will be from October 29 to 30 and the last day of filing of Statement of Contributions and Expenditures will be on November 29.

The PNP and the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) are watching ‘areas of concern’ including Negros Oriental and the Bangsamoro Administrative Region during the October 30 polls.

Based on initial assessments, there are 27 areas classified as ‘Red Category’ or places that are at most risk due to incidents of poll-related violence during previous elections; 232 are in the ‘Orange Category,’ 4,085 are in the ‘Yellow Category’ and 37,683 are in the Green Category.

Gen. Acorda said they are particularly watching areas known for its history of bitter political feuds, presence of armed groups, specifically the New People’s Army and partisan armed groups.

He also maintained that as part of their effort to ensure an honest, orderly and peaceful elections, police officers and men assigned in areas where their relatives are running for barangay or Sangguniang Kabataan posts in October will be temporarily transferred to other places.

Last week, the PNP, the Comelec and the PCG reaffirmed their commitment to ensuring the safety, integrity, and fairness of the October BSKE elections by signing a memorandum of agreement at the Sofitel Philippine Plaza in Manila.

Gen. Acorda, Comelec chairman George Erwin M. Garcia and PCG commander, Admiral Artemio M. Abu signed the agreement dedicated to upholding the democratic processes of the nation.

Garcia announced three new projects that would be implemented during the BSKE, namely, mall voting in select areas, early voting for seniors, persons with disabilities and the pregnant, and automated elections in three areas.

He added that local Comelec offices have identified alternative polling places for schools that were flooded due to recent typhoons.

The MOA signing underscored the critical role that the three agencies in safeguarding the elections, fostering transparency, and promoting public trust.

The joint efforts of these agencies aim to create an environment conducive to fair competition among candidates, encouraging voter participation and deterring any attempts at disrupting the electoral process, PNP Public Information Office chief, Brigadier Gen. Redrico A. Maranan said.

Gen. Acorda expressed his full support to the poll body’s efforts. “Our commitment to ensuring the security and orderliness of the Barangay and Sangguniang Kabataan Elections is unwavering. Through our cooperation, we intend to maintain a safe environment for voters to exercise their right to vote freely,” he said.

According to PNP Director for Operations, Brigadier Gen. Leo M. Francisco, the PNP and the AFP will be implementing a nationwide prohibition on the unauthorized carrying of firearms and other deadly weapons as well as the employment of bodyguards during the campaign period.

During the 90-day election period for the 2023 BSKE, only members of the PNP, the AFP and Other Law Enforcement Agencies conducting actual performance of duties in their agency-prescribed uniform will be exempted from the gun ban.

Agents of the Presidential Security Group guarding the First Family are automatically exempted from the ban.

According to the PNP chief, CPP/NPA actions during previous elections have been significantly reduced to extortion of permits to campaign fees, harassment, and gun for-hire of candidates.

“Let me caution candidates who will fall for this election racket of the CPP-NPA that any form of monetary or material support to the CPP-NPA, a terrorist organization, is tantamount to “terrorist financing” punishable under Republic Act No. 11479 or the Anti-Terrorism Act of 2020.

And if the donor or giver is an incumbent Barangay or SK official, the crime is further aggravated by willful disloyalty to their oath of office,” he said.