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PNP monitoring ares of concern for BSKE

September 20, 2023 Alfred P. Dalizon 234 views

PNPPHILIPPINE National Police (PNP) chief General Benjamin Acorda Jr. has ordered a continuing monitoring of ‘areas of concern’ in the October 30 Barangay and Sangguniang Kabataan Elections (BSKE), the Journal Group learned.

So far, the PNP has recorded 22 untoward incidents since the start of the BSKE period last August 28. Four of these incidents have already been validated as election-related incidents (ERIs) while 11 are not.

The rest are still being investigated, said PNP Public Information Office chief and spokesperson Colonel Jean S. Fajardo.

The official said that two validated ERIs happened in Bicol and Bangsamoro Administration Region, prompting the respective Regional Peace Security and Coordinating Centers to suggest both areas be placed under Comelec control.

Fajardo said the areas of grave concern remain at 27 although the PNP is still waiting for the final approval of the Commission on Elections on whether to add or remove more areas in the list.

Acorda has ordered intensified police visibility in the affected areas and arrest all members of private armed groups (PAGs).

So far, over 450 violators of the nationwide gun ban have been arrested by the police force. Over 200 firearms and other deadly weapons were seized from the offenders.

The top cop has ordered his men nationwide to fully help the Comelec implement rules set by the poll body during the BSKE.

Acorda has ordered his men not only to step up the drive versus loose firearms and partisan armed groups but also strictly enforce the nationwide gun ban.

He said a 24-hour enforcement of the prohibition on the unauthorized carrying of firearms and other deadly weapons across the country is necessary in order to prevent the flow of guns and other ‘instrument of violence’ that may be used to disrupt the BSKE campaign period.

Various officials have called on all BSKE candidates and their supporters in particular 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.

However, the campaign rules have returned to the old ways now that the government has declared that the pandemic is over.

The Comelec set the BSKE election period from July 3 to 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 are watching ‘areas of concern’ including Negros Oriental and the Bangsamoro Administrative Region during the October 30 polls.

Based on initial assessments, there are already 27 areas under the so-called ‘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.

‘Orange’ means areas where there are serious armed threats while ‘Red’ means areas of grave concern as they exhibit combined factors under the ‘Yellow’ category with serious armed threats that may warrant the motu proprio declaration of Comelec control.

However, these numbers are expected to change, according to the AFP and PNP.

Acorda said they are particularly watching areas known for its history of bitter political feuds, presence of lawless 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.

Comelec Chairman George Erwin Garcia has reminded the public that all public works projects have been prohibited starting last August 28, the first day of the filing of certificates of candidacy.

He added that all social services will also be banned from September 15, and all assistance to individuals in crisis situations (AICS) will be suspended from October 20 to 30. An exemption from the Comelec is needed for these activities to continue, he explained.

Garcia also 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.

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.

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