MANILA – The Philippine National Police (PNP) has recorded 53 cases of election-related incidents across the country since the start of the election period on January 9.

PNP Directorate for Operations director, Maj. Gen. Valeriano de Leon, on Wednesday said that of the number, 10 have been validated as election-related incidents (ERIs).

De Leon added that based on the Election Related Incidents Monitoring of the PNP from January 9 to May 2, 2022, there were 84 victims of the said ERIs. Among them include candidates themselves, government officials, and election officers.

A total of 145 suspects including threat groups, civilians, uniformed personnel, and incumbent candidates were identified.

On the other hand, 29 were confirmed as non-election-related incidents, while 14 are still subject to validation.

Among the areas where the confirmed election-related violence occurred are from the Ilocos Region with four incidents, three from Zamboanga, while Central Luzon, Northern Mindanao, and Cordillera recorded one each.

"The inherent function of the PNP, be it election-related or not, is to resolve the ERIs. We have to do intervention because there might be retaliation from both sides, and trouble might start. That is why we conduct covenant or peace signings,” said De Leon, who was also concurrent deputy commander of the National Security Task Force on National and Local Elections

De Leon said among those confirmed ERIs include the shootout and standoff in Pilar, Abra between the police and personnel of Vice Mayor Jaja Disono.

“This is already being managed by the (PNP) regional director and election officers. There are developments but let the wheel of justice run its course,” he said.

The Commission on Elections (Comelec) has placed 104 municipalities and 14 cities under the “red category,” the highest alert level for possible election-related violence, mainly due to the recorded presence of armed groups and intense political rivalry. There are 10 areas under Comelec control due to possible election-related violence.

The PNP will also deploy their personnel in polling centers as well as establish Comelec checkpoints to ensure security for the 2022 polls.

The Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) earlier said they will deploy more than 41,000 police personnel at checkpoints across the country.

There will also be 16,820 uniformed personnel who will conduct election duties nationwide.

Meanwhile, De Leon said the PNP is prepared not just for the conduct of elections, but also for the movement of losing candidates or groups who might conduct rallies or protests against the results of the May 9 elections.

De Leon said based on the information they gathered, there are groups or individuals who may take to the streets if the results of the polls do not fall in their favor.

“Well, these are just information, wala pa kaming natatanggap na nag-oorganize dito pero nabanggit ko na ng nakaraan ito naman ay pinaghandaan ng ating (we have not received information of any mobilization, but as I mentioned before, we have prepared our) contingents in all parts of the country, particularly the region that have access to Metro Manila,” he told reporters in a chance interview.

De Leon said he has tasked the various regional directors to submit their contingency plans should rallies escalate in their areas led by losing parties or candidates.

Should people want to conduct protests, he said they should first get permission from the local government units (LGUs).

Meanwhile, the PNP has formed a computer emergency response team to assist the Comelec in addressing potential threats to the automated election system through cyberspace.

“Primarily, (this is) to assist the Comelec in case of possible setbacks during the elections and to prevent electronically conducted crimes,” said PNP Chief, Gen. Dionardo Carlos, in an earlier interview.

Last April 24, three information technology experts were arrested for allegedly offering their services to manipulate the results of the elections.

They admitted to having connived with a former employee of Smartmatic, Comelec’s AES (automated election system) provider, to breach its system. (PNA)