Election period starts

A Comelec checkpoint in Bilar, Bohol. (Bilar PS BPPO)

Get used to police checks on major thoroughfares as the official election period starts today.

Philippine National Police (PNP) chief Director General Oscar Albayalde issued a flash memorandum to all police regional directors to conduct simultaneous checkpoint operations for the elections pursuant to Commission on Elections (Comelec) Resolution 10468.

Albayalde also ordered regional directors to establish at least one checkpoint in each of the country’s 1,600 cities and municipalities in coordination with the local election officer and military territorial unit in the area.

All regional directors were also instructed to personally lead the kick-off of checkpoint operations simultaneously nationwide at 12:01 a.m. today.

On 13 May, voters will choose 12 senators, congressmen, partylist representatives, and local government officials, such as mayor, vice mayor, governor, vice governor, city councilors and municipal and provincial board members.

A six-month gun ban is also in effect starting today which means the processing of licenses for owners of firearms is suspended during the period.

Albayalde said the PNP will also provide security personnel to politicians who would need protection during the election campaign.

“We have Comelec exemptions for the security details of those politicians who applied for one but they will be in uniform because they will be carrying firearms,” the PNP chief told reporters.

During the period, all licenses to carry firearms outside the residence are suspended.

“Only members of the PNP, Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP), National Bureau of Investigation and other law enforcement units who are on duty will be issued written permits by the Comelec to carry firearms,” he said.

A Comelec checkpoint in Parang, Maguindanao on Sunday, 13 January 2019. (PNP PRO ARMM)
A Comelec checkpoint in Parang, Maguindanao on Sunday, 13 January 2019. (PNP PRO ARMM)

Road jam expected

A so-called Unity Walk will be held today where candidates join a parade from Quezon City Hall to the Quezon City Memorial Circle (QCMC) where an inter-faith prayer rally and peace covenant signing will be held at the Liwasang Aurora.

Albayalde, AFP chief of staff Gen. Benjamin Madrigal Jr. and Comelec Chairman Sheriff Abas will deliver messages during the event which seeks to ensure a clean and peaceful elections.

The activity will end with the release of white doves as a symbol of peace and unity.
Motorists were advised to avoid areas near the QCMC.

In a statement, Quezon City Police District director Chief Supt. Joselito Esquivel Jr. said multi-sectorial groups, stakeholders, leaders, personnel and members of government agencies, religious groups, academe, students, civic and other non-government organizations were also expected to attend.

A portion of the Elliptical Road, from East Ave. to Kalayaan Ave., will be closed to traffic at 5 a.m.

Priority on peace

Last Thursday, Albayalde, Madrigal and Abbas held the first of a series of conferences that would ensure the smooth conduct of the midterm elections.

Albayalde said they tackled security preparations, particularly the deployment of personnel to intensify intelligence-driven law enforcement operations and strengthened police-community partnership to preclude violence and ensure order during the political exercises.

President Rodrigo Duterte earlier had issued memoranda mandating the deputation of AFP and the PNP to secure the upcoming plebiscite for the Bangsamoro Organic Law (BOL) and the 2019 elections.

“Law enforcement and other concerned agencies are hereby directed to coordinate and cooperate with the Comelec in the performance of their duties and functions,” the President stated in Memorandum Orders 34 and 35 which he issued on 28 December and were released to the media on Friday.

String of polls

The Constitution mandated the Comelec to “deputize, with the concurrence of the President, law enforcement agencies and instrumentalities of the government, including the Armed Forces of the Philippines, for the exclusive purpose of ensuring free, orderly, honest, peaceful and credible elections.”

Plebiscites on the BOL will be held on 21 January and 6 February.

Interior Secretary Eduardo Año also said the extension of martial law in Mindanao will greatly help the police and the military ensure the peaceful conduct of the plebiscite.

The BOL, previously known as the Bangsamoro Basic Law and considered as one of Duterte’s biggest legislative achievements, seeks to give the Moro people basic legal tools to chart their own destiny within the country’s constitutional framework.

p: wjg