PNP, AFP deploy joint forces to ensure peaceful elections

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THE National Police (PNP) and the Armed Forces Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) said on Sunday they have deployed enough forces to ensure today’s elections would be orderly and peaceful.

“The PNP, in coordination with the AFP, has deployed sufficient forces to see to it that our elections nationwide will be peaceful, safe and secure. The PNP, together with other agencies, are ready to secure all vital installations and economic key points and other places of convergence,” PNP Chief Director General Ricardo Marquez said.

“While the law respects the Constitutional right of individuals to suffrage, we encourage partisan supporters to perform their acts peacefully and within the bounds of the law, as it is also the duty of the PNP to protect the rights of other people that may be violated by any unlawful act,” Marquez said.

On the other hand, military Spokesman Brig. Gen. Restituto Padilla said no significant threats have so far been monitored that could adversely affect the holding of the polls today, although security forces, who were already on red alert status, were still on guard.

“So far, there are no significant threats that have been monitored that should be a cause for worry. We are confident that our forces, along with those of the PNP, are all adequately distributed to help ensure the successful, safe, secure, peaceful, orderly and credible conduct of the elections,” Padilla said.

“We appeal to the public to remain alert and vigilant so that we can all work together to ensure the sanctity of the ballot in all areas,” he added.

PNP Spokesman Chief Supt. Wilben Mayor said that, apart from the incident in Northern Samar, where suspected New People’s Army members ambushed a team of soldiers bringing ballot boxes to the precincts, no other untoward incident was reported as of Sunday.

He said the ambush resulted in the death of a soldier who was not identified and the wounding of four others.

Marquez appealed to the public to follow the two-day liquor ban implemented by the Commission on Elections beginning on Sunday night, which he said the police would strictly enforce.

“Violation of said prohibited acts shall be punishable with imprisonment of not less than one year but not more than six years and shall not be subject to probation, and in addition, the guilty party shall suffer disqualification to hold public office and deprivation of the right of suffrage,” the PNP chief warned.

At the same time, Marquez said the Comelec-AFP-PNP checkpoints will continuously function all throughout the country to implement the firearms ban.

According to Mayor, more than 3,000 individuals have been arrested at the checkpoints that were put up since January this year.

Marquez also called on the public to be on the watch against groups who might take advantage of the elections.

“We call on the public to be vigilant at all times to prevent unscrupulous individuals and lawless elements from disrupting the voting process for their sinister motives,” the PNP chief said.

He added that the various “miting de avance” that were conducted by the presidential candidates in Metro Manila on Saturday night were generally peaceful, except for the resulting traffic jams.

Marquez reiterated that the PNP will be apolitical and will work to ensure the integrity of the polls. “We, in the PNP, remain non-partisan and apolitical, and must never allow ourselves to be used for anyone’s political ends,” he said.

“The PNP assures the public that it is doing its best efforts to uphold the security and integrity of the national and local elections, and to effectively counter possible election mischief, as well as to sustain peace and order in the country,” the PNP chief added.

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Rene P. Acosta covers defense, law enforcement and national security for the paper. He had written for a number of publications, including abroad before he joined BusinessMirror. His works had appeared in the Center for Strategic and International Studies and Asia Pacific Defense Forum, both in the US. He took up regional security with the International Visitor Leadership Program, US. He is currently the chairman of the board of the Defense Press Corps of the Philippines which he had headed in 2009.