IS the Philippine National Police (PNP) well-prepared to ensure the holding of free, honest and orderly elections on May 13, 2019, when the nation goes anew to the polls to elect new government officials?
Yes, said veteran political observers, who expect concerned government offices, notably the Commission on Elections (Comelec), to come up with highly-effective measures aimed at addressing poll cheating.
This early, the leadership of the 190,000-member PNP has already ordered its regional directors (RDs) to identify all poll watch list areas, partisan armed groups (PAGs) and guns-for-hire in their jurisdiction.
PNP chief Director-General Oscar “Odie” Albayalde also ordered his 17 RDs to list candidates vulnerable to attacks by their political opponents and those receiving constant death threats.
And the people are made to believe that PNP’s highly-trained field officers are capable of ascertaining the municipalities and cities in their areas of operation with intense political rivalries.
All police RDs are also expected to list down candidates who have the potential to utilize their private armies and guns-for-hire to harass or even kill their political rivals and their supporters.
A total of 7,926 barangays in 896 municipalities, many of them in the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) and Eastern Visayas, are under the watchful eyes of policemen.
These places have been identified as “election areas of concern” during the 2019 national and local elections.
Under the calendar of activities of the Comelec, the election period starts on Jan. 13 next year, while the five-day filing of certificates of candidacy (CoCs) ended yesterday (October 17).
But admittedly, the people, including the country’s more than 60 million registered voters, play a stellar role in ensuring the holding of a safe, fair and credible 2019 off-season election.