MANILA – A total of 4,429 police officers are ready to serve as board of election inspectors (BEIs) deputized by the Commission on Elections (Comelec) in the Oct. 30 Barangay and Sangguniang Kabataan Elections (BSKE), Philippine National Police (PNP) chief Gen. Benjamin Acorda Jr. said on Monday.
In a press briefing in Camp Crame, Quezon City, Acorda said this is in anticipation of the possible absence of designated BEIs due to security reasons.
He said these police officers are stationed in the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM), Northern Mindanao, Calabarzon and Bicol.
“Not that these areas are perennial election flash points, but some of the parameters for the classification of election areas are present in these localities, such as the presence of threat groups, historical data of election-related incidents and intense political rivalry; and presence of organized crime and partisan armed groups,” Acorda said after the command conference with top police officials and chiefs of police regional offices.
Among the country’s 42,001 barangays, Acorda said, 356 are under the red category or "areas of grave concern; 1,196 are classified under the yellow category; 1,325 are under the orange category while the rest are classified under the green category.
Places under the red category are considered to be on the watchlist and need to be carefully monitored due to the presence of threats.
Green areas are those that are generally peaceful and orderly and have no cause for concern while yellow areas have a history of election-related incidents in the last polls and had been previously declared under the control of the Comelec.
Orange areas are those of immediate concern where there is a serious armed threat.
The country’s top cop said these classifications provide a better perspective of the security conditions in certain areas to assist them in setting priorities for operational management in the deployment of forces and distribution of resources.
“Now with regards to the issue of the possibility of local officials interfering with the results of the elections, what we can say is we have given instruction to our police officers not to be a part of any partisan politics and that includes even to the local government chief executive. They should not allow themselves to be used by these officials. But so far, we have not received any report to that effect,” he said.
Since the start of the election period last Aug. 28, Acorda said the PNP has conducted a total of 251,592 checkpoint operations supervised by local Comelec officers.
A total of 1,103 firearms were seized from 1,479 arrested violators as of Oct. 15.
The PNP has also accepted 995 surrendered firearms and another 1,905 firearms deposited for safekeeping.
PNP deputy chief for operations Lt. Gen. Michael John Dubria, meanwhile, said all units have been placed on heightened alert as part of security preparations for the BSKE and "Undas" or All Saints' and All Souls' Days.
“As of now normally, we are on heightened alert because of this upcoming BSKE and after that, we have the Undas holidays so we are not lowering our alert so that the citizens can enjoy their holidays,” Dubria told reporters when sought for a comment.
The election period for the BSKE started on Aug. 28 and will end on Nov. 29.
During this period, the Comelec mandates the suspension of activities involving the carrying of firearms or other deadly weapons and the employment of security personnel or bodyguards by incumbent public officials, whether elected or appointed, as well as private individuals. (PNA)