AS the eight-day filing of Certificates of Candidacy (COC) and Certificate of Nomination and Acceptance (CONA) for the 2022 national and local elections ended up generally peaceful last week, it is now the turn of the Philippine National Police (PNP) to see to it that intense political rivalries won’t end up in violent incidents just like in the past, PNP chief, General Guillermo Lorenzo T. Eleazar said Thursday.
The top cop bared he has ordered all 17 police regional directors across the country to start mapping out election security plans in their respective areas of responsibility as intense political rivalries are expected to heat up at the local level after the filing of the COCs and CONAs by the 2022 aspirants.
“Ngayong nagkakaroon na ng linaw kung sinu-sino ang maglalaban-laban lalo na sa mga local elective position, inaasahan na natin ang mainitang political rivalries na posibleng mauwi sa karahasan kaya inatasan ko na ang ating mga unit commanders na umpisahan na ang paghahanda upang tiyaking walang kaguluhang mangyayari sa kani-kanilang areas of responsibility,” Gen. Eleazar said.
PNP data has showed that almost all the election-related violence in the past stemmed from intense political rivalries of candidates vying for local posts, which include clashes among the supporters.
To address the problem, Gen. Eleazar said they are currently reviewing and assessing the areas with history of election-related violence.
Part of the campaign to ensure honest, peaceful and orderly elections in May elections next year is the aggressive campaign against loose firearms and the accounting of private armed groups in various parts of the country, he explained.
“I also ordered our Intelligence Group (IG) to start the monitoring and background check on all the candidates who have the history, the potential and the means to sow violence as part of our aggressive efforts to ensure honest and peaceful elections next year,” said Gen. Eleazar.
“We assure our kababayans that their Philippine National Police (PNP) will do everything in its power to ensure that this entire democratic process will be protected,” he added.
The PNP-IG headed by Brigadier Gen. Neil B. Alinsañgan has stepped up its ‘intelligence-driven’ operations to identify candidates employing partisan armed groups and those colluding with criminal gangs and the New People’s Army, the PNP chief said.
PNP TO REMAIN APOLITICAL
Gen. Eleazar has also directed all police personnel to refrain from posting campaign materials on their vehicles, police stations, and camps as part of their being apolitical.
Anticipating early campaigning by some political aspirants who have filed their candidacies, the PNP chief stressed the need for all officers and men of the 220,000-strong force to stay away from partisan politicking activities.
“Inaasahan natin na pagkatapos ng prosesong ito ay magsusulputan na ang mga stickers at mga posters ng mga ilang kandidato para sa maagang pangangampanya,” he said.
“Kaya muli ay pinapaalalahanan natin ang aming kapulisan na wala dapat nakadikit na mga ganitong uri ng early campaign materials sa mga sasakyan ng pulis, mga police stations at maging sa mga kampo,” he added.
Gen. Eleazar said the PNP leadership understands that there has been an unresolved gray area on this issue but just the same assured the public that they will continue to isolate themselves from any form of partisan politics.
“As a professional organization, the apolitical stand of the PNP is an absolute necessity. We intend to keep it that way,” he said.
Last week, Gen. Eleazar ordered a full accounting of policemen whose relatives and family members are running for local elective positions, especially at the local level in the May 2022 polls as part of his effort to ensure an apolitical police force.
According to the top cop, this will ensure that not a single member of the 222,000-strong police force will engage in partisan politics. Police officers and men who are also planning to seek elective posts in next year’s polls will also automatically be deemed resigned from the force once they file their COC this week.
Gen. Eleazar said that as part of their commitment to isolate the PNP from partisan politics, he has ordered an accounting of police officers and men whose relatives have already filed the COC or would certainly run for public office in the May elections.
Once identified, these policemen would be transferred to areas outside the cities, municipalities and provinces where their relatives are seeking to be re-elected or elected for the first time. This is to prevent usual complaints that some policemen have been actively campaigning for their relatives and intervening on their behalf in case they violate election rules and regulations.
While most of the allegations are not true, Gen. Eleazar stressed that these incidents only revealed that police officers may also be subjected to harassments and victims of false allegations.
“This is to ensure that any of our personnel would not be given the opportunity to intervene and likewise prevent speculations and allegations in the future that the PNP is engaging in partisan politics, especially at the local level,” he explained.