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PNP, AFP all set for today’s polls

POLICE personnel of the Manila Police District conduct last minute head count before being deployed for today's barangay and SK elections. (Camille Ante)

POLICE personnel of the Manila Police District conduct last minute head count before being deployed for today’s barangay and SK elections. (Camille Ante)

More than 160,000 policemen, backed by thousands of soldiers and civilian volunteers, will be on the streets and near voting precincts today to secure what security officials describe as traditionally violent election of barangay officials across the country.

Director General Oscar Albayalde, chief of the Philippine National Police (PNP), said that the deployment started as early as Friday but the big bulk of policemen tasked to secure the barangay and Sangguniang Kabataan (SK) elections will be fromSunday night to early morning today.

“The PNP has 190,000 uniformed personnel and we expect at least 160,000 to be deployed during the Election Day to guard the polling centers,” said Albayalde.

Elite police forces from the Special Action Force (SAF) and the Regional Public Safety Battalions and Provincial Public Safety Company are expected to be deployed in hot spot areas where threat groups such as rebel and extremists groups like the communist and Moro rebels are present.

PNP spokesman Chief Supt. John Bulalacao said that regular police forces were instructed to intensify police visibility and conduct checkpoints and preemptive actions against armed persons and threat groups.

Among those who would be sent out for deployment, according to Bulalacao, are some policemen doing desk jobs, in order to maximize the presence of policemen especially those who would be deployed to secure polling precincts—usually public schools.

“We also have some personnel who are ready to serve as board of canvassers, if and only if, the teachers and their replacements would not show up due to intense threat in some areas,” said Bulalacao.

More than 670,000 positions for barangay chairman and councilors and SK chairman and councilors are to be contested in today’s elections—41,948 barangay chairman and SK chairman posts and 335,583 each for barangay councilors and SK councilors.

Police officials acknowledged that barangay elections are usually the bloodiest since the rivalry is among the neighbors in a particular community wherein some of the issues sometimes are turning personal.

Based on the PNP data, more than 24 people were already killed since the start of the election period on April 14. Most of the casualties are incumbent and candidates for barangay elections and their supporters.

The Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) meanwhile is more than ready to do their part to ensure a relatively peaceful polls.

“After a series of deliberate planning conferences that include contingent events, the measures, and the resources to address the same, the AFP is all set for (Monday’s) Barangay and Sangguniang Kabataan Elections (BSKEs),” said AFP spokesperson Col. Edgard Arevalo.

He also pointed out that the AFP has yet to monitor any security threat in connection with today’s polls. (With a report from PNA)