Comelec, PNP watch out for narco-pols

BARANGAY, SK ELECTIONS

LINGAYEN—Pangasinan units of the Commission on Elections, Philippine National Police and the Armed Forces of the Philippines held their first joint command conference to finalize initial plans and strategies to ensure secure, peaceful and drug-free Barangay and Sangguniang Kabataan Elections (B-SKE) on May 14.

Held last April 13 at the Narciso Ramos Sports and Civic Center in Lingayen, the command conference determined which town or area will be given priority to secure peace and order during the campaign and election period, lawyer Marino Salas, the Comelec’s provincial supervisor said after the meeting.

P/ Sr. Superintendent Ronald Lee, director of the Pangasinan Police Provincial Office (PPPO), said while no “election watch list” areas (EWAS) were tagged for the B-SK campaign and election period, the police will monitor the 21 EWAS in the province listed during the 2016 elections.

The 21 towns and cities were not identified, however.

The conference also discussed a new element in the B-SKE: narco-politics.

PPPO’s Intelligence Branch reported that there are 186 identified narco-politicians among the incumbent barangay officials.

These narco-politicians in the province were among those that were subjected to ‘Tokhang’ or who had previously surrendered or arrested by PDEA and police operatives, Lee said.

Salas of the Comelec said that while there is no law preventing or disqualifying candidates who are found positive of illegal drugs, or mandating a compulsory drug test, candidates are urged to voluntarily take the drug tests to be administered by PNP.

“Responsibilidad ng ating mga kandidato na i-subject ang sarili nila sa drug test, kung taos sa puso nila ang paglilingkod sa barangay, wala naman sigurong kandidato na gustong mabalik as drug affected ang kanyang barangay,” Lee said.

Another activity set by the Comelec and PPPO will be the series of covenant signing among candidates from April 21 to May 4.

On personnel deployment, additional forces from the PNP, AFP and Provincial Mobile Force Company will be sent to selected “priority areas”, and since

PPPO will implement the 2:1 ratio or two police personnel in every voting precinct, Lee said the provincial police force will need additional manpower to the 950 it has now.

The conference also tackled contingency measures and action plans to respond to election-related incidents like shooting, bombing, threats, presence of armed groups, vote buying, sabotage of vital installations, potential disaster, power interruptions, and communication signal disruptions.

Salas advised the PNP not to use marked vehicles with names or faces of politicians or candidates to transport ballot boxes, and police personnel with relatives (up to the 4th degree) as candidates will be temporarily transferred to other posts.

P/Chief Inspector Norman Florentino, PPPO police community relations chief, said the PNP will also use the social media to keep the public posted on peace and order issues.

Meanwhile, Salas told the PUNCH that there are 5,460 precincts in the province that will be served by 17,000 teachers as supervisors and board of election tellers, whose training will begin this month. (Nora Dominguez)

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