Byline: MIKE U. CRISMUNDO
CAMP RAFAEL C. RODRIGUEZ, Butuan City Were ready and the entire manpower and machinery of the Philippine National Police (PNP) will operate at peak efficiency to ensure a clean, honest, and orderly political exercise.
Director General Hermogenes E. Ebdane Jr., PNP chief, yesterday gave this assurance to the people of Mindanao, as the official campaign for national positions in the May 10 polls started the other day.
However, Ebdane said the PNP, in close coordination of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP), is keeping a tight watch on potential areas where election-related violence traditionally explodes, like the provinces of Maguindanao, Lanao del Sur, and the cities of Marawi and some parts of Cotabato. "We also pinpointed some 4,000 municipalities in the entire country."
He also said that they are closely watching the reported 114 armed partisan groups who are operating in the identified "troubled hot spot areas" in some parts of the country, particularly in Mindanao. He said that appropriate steps and counter-measures are being readied to dismantle these groups and other violent elements.
The PNP chief, who is in Mindanao to personally assess the political and peace and order situations on the southern island, said "the whole police force will be on high alert and deployed all over the country."
Ebdane said the PNP hierarchy is also deploying more additional firearms, vehicles, and communications facilities to beef up the firepower in identified "hot spots" or areas of immediate concern. "Last year, we already asked the national government for additional logistical support to beef up the needs of our men in the field," he said.
He also mentioned that all regional and provincial mobile forces and special task forces who already underwent seminar on election duty undertaken by the Commission on Elections (Comelec) were already deployed at various parts of the country, especially in identified immediate areas of concern.
Under the law, the Comelec is empowered to deputize any government agency for specific tasks during the elections. As in previous elections, it has deputized the PNP to enforce election laws, rules, and regulations, and secure peace and order before and after the May 10 elections.
The PNP chief commended the Police Regional Office (PRO) 13 under the leadership of Chief Supt. Alberto R. Olario for the strict implementation of the Comelec Resolution No. 6446, which prohibits the carrying of firearms without the Comelec permit. The PRO 13 already arrested nine persons for violating the election gun ban, and are now facing charges at various courts in the region.
The police chief also ordered the rank-and-file of the PNP to be non-partisan and urged them to refrain from issuing inflammatory statements that tend to be partisan or heighten pre-election tensions.
Meanwhile, top officials of the PRO 13, …