MANILA -- Philippine National Police (PNP) Chief, Director General Oscar Albayalde, said Friday reshuffle has already started for police officials affiliated with candidates as part of security preparation for next year's midterm elections.
“Magkakaroon pa po ng mga reshuffle as the days go by. Para sinasabi natin ma-level natin yung playing field at para ma-ensure na walang kikilingan yung mga kapulisan, lalo na yung may mga kamag-anak doon sa kanilang jurisdiction (We still have reshuffles as the days go by. It’s like we are saying that we are leveling the playing field and to ensure that no police officer is affiliated with family or relatives in his area of jurisdiction),” he told reporters after the Police Regional Office in Cordillera celebrated its 117th Police Service Anniversary in Baguio City.
“So temporary relief lang po yan (It is just a temporary relief). That's an administrative relief. Hindi naman ibig sabihin na kapag ikaw ay na-relieve doon sa lugar, ay meron kang ginawang kasalanan (It does not mean that if you were relieved in the area, you did something wrong),” Albayalde added.
The PNP earlier formed Special Operations Task Group (SOTG) to oversee the implementation of security preparations for the 2019 midterm elections.
Albayalde said the SOTG is tasked to address issues on election-related violence, a problem which has long hounded Philippine polls.
“We will be appointing directors from (the) Directorate Integrated Police Operations to supervise the regions, particularly the provinces. Under their jurisdiction na i-supervise nilang mabuti pagdating naman sa (that they will supervise closely in terms of) election-related concerns,” he added.
As of May, Albayalde identified 7,926 barangays in 896 municipalities as areas of concern or election hotspots.
Most of these, he said, are in the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao, followed by Regions 8 (Eastern Visayas) and 7 (Central Visayas).
“I have directed anew all Police Regional Offices and national support units to go 'hammer and tongs' in aggressive interdiction operations against private armed groups, gun-for-hire syndicates and its criminal support system, that historically mar the peaceful holding of credible and fair elections,” Albayalde said.
PNP preparations are aimed at securing the five-month election period from January 13 to June 12, 2019.
“I am optimistic that with all security measures in place, we can look forward to peaceful and fair elections in 2019,” he added. (PNA)