PNP-CITF crackdown vs pols with unauthorized bodyguards to continue

THE 2019 national and local elections may be over but still, the Philippine National Police Counter-Intelligence Task Force will still continue its crackdown on policemen providing security to politicians and all other persons without authority from the Commission on Elections until the end of the polling period this coming June 12, the Journal Group learned yesterday.

PNP-CITF director, Colonel Romeo M. Caramat Jr. himself motored to Abra province last week to personally lead CITF ‘Red Teams’ tasked to go after violators of the directive from PNP chief, Director General Oscar D. Albayalde who had made it clear to his field commanders the need to immediately recall all security details to politicians or candidates without approval from the Comelec.

Other PNP-CITF teams have been deployed across the country to accost violators of the directive issued by Gen. Albayalde who also warned that unit commanders will be held directly responsible in case any of their men will be found to be providing unauthorized security protection to candidates and politicians in their areas.

Last Monday, the PNP chief declared that there will be no more reassignment of PNP personnel except in rare cases. He also ordered his men to remain non-partisan and stick to its mandate of becoming neutral in every election.

Gen. Albayalde also ordered his unit commanders and chiefs of police to double their conduct of Comelec-supervised checkpoints focusing not only in towns and municipal proper in the provinces but also in the highlands or mountain barangays as well.

The PNP chief explained the need to conduct true and honest checkpoints to deter any untoward incidents during the election period. This is apart from the continuing conduct of focused police operations to lessen the risk factors in the polling period.

They include the intensive campaign to recover loose firearms, arrest most wanted persons, neutralize identified members of criminal gangs specifically gun-for-hire syndicates and neutralize existing Partisan Armed Groups.

Gen. Albayalde last week reminded his unit commanders to recall all police security details to politicians or candidates without Comelec authority saying their failure to do so will be a ground for their relief and investigation.

“All unit commanders are directly responsible to this directive,” Gen. Albayalde said to his men.

He said those who will be caught violating his directive will be facing administrative charges that may lead to their dismissal from the force for grave misconduct. Apart from fully enforcing the nationwide gun ban, police are under orders to ensure that the prohibition on the unauthorized employment of bodyguards and other security personnel during the election period will be fully implemented.

Gen. Albayalde also said they are fully enforcing the so-called ‘Alunan Doctrine’ which allows only two bodyguards for candidates as part of their election security measures.

Caramat said so far, they have accosted at least three policemen who were found acting as unauthorized bodyguards to candidates.

Two of them were identified as Corporal Gerlie Garcia and Patrolman Jed Ceril Sevilla who acted  as unauthorized security escorts to Marilao, Bulacan mayoralty candidate Ricardo Silvestre.

Pictures and video footage of the two policemen securing without any authority Silvestre when the latter made his campaign sorties in  Marilao were taken by PNP-CITF and PNP-IG undercover officers.

The 3rd was a Police Master Sergeant in Abra found providing unauthorized security to a local candidate. Gen. Albayalde said the Abra cop was accosted while wearing a short pants and armed with an M-16 automatic rifle.

Caramat said  the three were not arrested but were instead told they would be facing administrative charges for violating Gen. Albayalde’s directive for all members of the police force to stay apolitical.