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Danao: PNP to continue securing 120 poll ‘hot spots’

May 9, 2022 Alfred P. Dalizon 188 views

DanaoTHE May 9 national and local elections has ended up peacefully but the job is not over for the Philippine National Police (PNP) which will continue securing 107 towns and 15 cities previously declared as ‘election areas of concern’ until the counting of votes cast is over and winners have been proclaimed, PNP Officer-in-Charge, Lieutenant General Vicente D. Danao Jr. said yesterday.

The new top cop said they will continue to remain on full alert until the end of the election period on June 8 and the nationwide gun ban is lifted by the Commission on Elections (Comelec).

Police and military troops are tightly watching the following towns of Maguindanao and Lanao del Sur which have been placed under Comelec control: in Maguindanao: Buluan, Datu Odin Sinsuat, Datu Piang, Mangudadatu, Pandag and Sultan Kudarat; in Lanao del Sur: Marawi City and the municipalities of Maguing, Tuburan and Malabang.

Security troops have also tightened their guard in Pilar, Abra and the province of Misamis Occidental which were also placed under Comelec control.

Under Comelec Resolution 10757, an area may be placed under Comelec control if it has the following circumstances: history of/or current intense rivalry among contending parties. Such rivalries could motivate people to engage in violent acts; Incidents of politically-motivated violence involving aspirants/candidates and other supporters; Violence may be facilitated by the employment of Private Armed Groups (PAGs); and Serious armed threats posed by the Communist Terrorist Groups (CTGs), and other threat groups.

The other threat groups include the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters, Abu Sayyaf Group, Maute Group, and other analogous threat groups as may be declared by the competent authority or other paramilitary forces, private armies or identifiable armed bands widely perceived to have committed terrorism, fraud or other election irregularities and threaten or disrupt the holding of free, peaceful, honest, orderly, and credible elections in any political division, subdivision, unit or area.

The strict police security measures in the so-called ‘EACs’ is part of the government effort to ensure the conduct of honest, peaceful and orderly May 9 national and local elections.

The top cop said they are fully partnering with the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) to secure the areas known for their history of violent poll-related violent incidents and intense partisan political activities in the past two elections.

Two municipalities in Lanao del Norte have been added to the list as the PNP leadership ordered all 17 police regional offices and the different PNP national operational support units led by the Criminal Investigation and Detection Group (CIDG) and the Intelligence Group (IG) to intensify their efforts to neutralize identified private armed groups that could be used to sow violence during the election.

Police are also investigating reported election-related incidents in Zamboanga peninsula and Ilocos-Pangasinan, Central Luzon, Northern Mindanao and Cordillera regions.

The PNP had said that only two out of 138 PAGs in the list of the PNP last year have been verified to be actively existing in Central Mindanao and security troops are closing in on them.

Lt. Gen. Danao had said they will apply the full force of the law against anybody who will try to violate the law specifically the prohibitions under the Omnibus Election Code.

“To those plotting to cheat, just a stern warning: we will use the full force of the law against you, and if you get caught – make no mistake, we have a place for you,” he said.

The new top cop also reminded officers and men of the 225,000-strong police force to remain apolitical and treat all candidates and their supporters equally.

The erstwhile PNP Deputy Chief for Operations had supervised the PNP’s elections programs as well as the inspection of the equipment they will be needing in their security preparations.

The PNP has sent off transportation, security, communication, and other mission-essential equipment ahead of election day to improve capability of police units on the ground to ensure a fair, honest, safe, and secure elections.

Lt. Gen. Danao said they have doubled efforts to ensure safety and security in all polling centers across the country.

PNP Public Information Office chief, Brigadier Gen. Roderick Augustus B. Alba said the prevailing peace and order situation in a particular area is being monitored by the police as part of their election security measures.

He added that a province or a city or municipality could be also placed under Comelec control upon the recommendation of the PNP and the AFP in case there is a confirmed large presence of armed groups that could disrupt the polls.

Lt. Gen. Danao also warned anew politicians and other influential persons from employing unauthorized bodyguards or private armed groups.

He said that as part of their effort to maintain peace and order in areas with intense political rivalries, they have created Regional Special Operations Task Groups (RSOTGs) that will keep guard in these particular spots.

He added that the RSOTGs in Samar and Masbate provinces are doing good in maintaining peace in the two Mareas which are both known for having a number of violent poll-related incidents specifically during the past 2 previous

Records showed there were a total of 18,023 elective posts being contested with 845 candidates including 39 congressional bets out of the 253 seats in the House of Representatives who run unopposed.

A total of nine gubernatorial candidates, 11 vice-gubernatorial bets, 203 mayoralty candidates, 254 vice-mayoralty bets and 284 candidates for city/municipal council seats also run unopposed.