LINGAYEN—With the start of the candidates’ registration period on April 14, 2018 for the Barangay and Sangguniang Kabataan elections this May, the Philippine National Police and Commission on Elections have announced plans to set up joint checkpoints in the province.
Police Superintendent Ronald Lee, police provincial director disclosed the coming move, even as he admitted that no area in Pangasinan is being considered as “hotspot” or for inclusion in a watch list.
Lee said he was confident that the campaign period and election in all the barangays in the province will be “more peaceful and orderly” than in previous elections.
He said the intensive police operations against illegal drugs and loose firearms after the 2016 elections have greatly diminished capabilities of crime syndicates to operate during the campaign and election period despite attempts of New People’s Army elements to enter Natividad and San Nicolas towns.
Lee acknowledged that some towns and cities were listed as hotspots in past elections but the situation has changed dramatically with the arrests of many drug personalities and owners of unlicensed firearms. “Our barangays are now more peaceful than in the past,” he said.
As of January this year, the Pangasinan Police Provincial Office (PPPO) has validated the declaration of all of the 1,364 barangays in Pangasinan as cleared of illegal drugs, and new emerging drug pushers are already easily identified with the help of barangay residents themselves, Lee said.
He added the police will continue to closely monitor activities of incumbent barangay officials seeking reelection and suspected to have lent protection to illegal drug traders in the past.
Provincial Election Supervisor Marino Salas admitted that the duty of the Comelec in accepting certificates of candidacies of candidates is just ministerial, and it is the police’s responsibility to identify and tag narco-politicians in the barangays.
The Comelec, police and the military held their peace and security coordination council meeting on April 10 in Lingayen to finalize plans to address possible security threats during the campaign and election period.
They agreed that possible vote-buying, and harassment and intimidation of voters and of candidates will be closely monitored and immediately checked.
Lee and Salas called on the public to cooperate with the coming checkpoints for the sake of peaceful elections. (Leonardo Micua)
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