Director General Ricardo C. Marquez, chief of the Philippine National Police, has ordered all police commanders to intensify police presence in their areas of jurisdiction in anticipation of intense political rivalries following the start of the local campaign yesterday.
In order to ensure compliance of his order, Marquez said he himself is making rounds across the country, visiting provinces where intense competition would likely happen.
“We issued additional instructions (to police commanders) of what they need to do since rivalries are more intense at the local level,” said Marquez.
“We told them to heighten the level of police presence, focus on operations on the ground,” he added.
Marquez is set to visit Abra and Maguindanao after the Holy Week.
Abra has been consistently in the list of election hot spots, with killings that include local officials as both culprits and victims.
Maguindanao is known for the infamous election-related massacre of 57 people in 2009, more than 30 of them journalists supposed to cover the filing of Certificate of Candidacy of now Gov. Esmael Mangudadatu.
Since the PNP is at the forefront of election security, Marquez said strategic planning, deployment, and operations are necessary to maximize what the police forces have.
“Our advice to our commanders is to continue assessing the situation on the ground and if there are some changes, the Regional Directors should be advised for proper response,” said Marquez.
A regular command conference will also be held for assessments and some security, according to Marquez.
The PNP leadership has placed its entire police force on heightened alert status for the campaign period in which commanders are instructed to keep at least 50 percent of their personnel present at all times.
Marquez said the alert level is expected to be increased further as elections near.
He said he expects all the leaves of absence and days off of policemen to be cancelled at least a month before Election Day. (Aaron B. Recuenco)