NATIONAL Capital Region Police Office director, Major General Guillermo Lorenzo T. Eleazar yesterday assured Metro Manila residents of their 100 percent preparedness to ensure the holding of a peaceful and orderly national and local elections.
The official said a total of 16,000 NCRPO personnel have been deployed to their respective assignments with 1,000 more on standby for support should the need arise.
“The highest level of readiness is expected in all police offices and units and I have canceled all leaves except for those that are emergency in nature to assure a 100 percent attendance in different offices or stations,” Eleazar said.
As of yesterday noon, Philippine National Police agents across the country have also arrested more than 200 liquor ban violators in 14 operations which began when the clock struck midnight Saturday.
Eleazar said 185 of the liquor ban violators alone were arrested by agents of the Quezon City Police District under Brigadier General Joselito T. Esquivel Jr. He added that so far, they have also arrested 84 suspects in vote-buying and selling of votes in different parts of Makati, Muntnlupa and Q.C.
Most of the accused were arrested by operatives of the Southern Police District under Brig. Gen. Eliseo DC Cruz. In Makati City alone, combined agents of the Makati police and the NCRPO Regional Special Operations Unit arrested eight vote-buyers and 52 vote sellers inside the San Isidro Barangay Hall in Marconi Street.
Philippine National Police spokesman, Colonel Bernard M. Banac said that other vote-buyers and vote-sellers were also arrested in Central Luzon, Central Visayas, Eastern Visayas and Cordillera region.
In Cebu City, four local Sangguniang Kabataan councilors were arrested while engaged in vote-buying in Cogon Central Ramos. Police Regional Office 7 director, Brig. Gen. Debold M. Sinas said the four were apprehended while in the act of offering money to local residents in exchange for their votes for Jerry Guardo who is running for a city council seat.
The NCRPO director said that all 8,298 vote counting machines (VCMs) to be used in Metro Manila were already delivered in 723 polling centers in the metropolis.
Moreover, the final testing and sealing of VCMs have been done, while the official ballots were already transported from the National Printing Office to the City Treasurer’s Office.
Eleazar said that as part of the Comelec’s “Oplan Baklas” program, they have assisted poll officers in removing nearly 471,000 election materials including posters and tarpaulins placed in unauthorized areas.
He also said that over 37,000 checkpoints have been put up in different parts of the metropolis to help arrest violators of the gun ban. Since last January 13, up to last Saturday, NCRPO personnel have already confiscated 655 firearms and arrested 39 gun ban offenders.
A total of 1,146 persons have been apprehended in different police operations in Metro Manila since the gun ban started, he added.
Eleazar likewise reminded that the nationwide liquor ban took effect 12:01 yesterday until midnight today. Thus, the selling, furnishing, offering, buying, serving, or taking of intoxicating liquor is prohibited and violators will be apprehended, he said.
Eleazar said they are also going after persons engaged in vote-buying in Metro Manila. He said that alleged vote-buying incidents have been uncovered by the police along Governor Pascual Avenue in Barangay Concepcion, Malabon City the other day.
The official said that local police authorities arrested 48-years old Joel Adoza who was seen receiving a bundle of envelops from an unidentified person on board a gray Toyota Vios.
Recovered from Adoza’s possesion were 17 pieces of small envelopes each containing P300, 15 pieces of unsigned acknowledgement receipt with name of a candidate for councilor and a list of local voters.
Eleazar has ordered his men to crack down on vote-buying activities in their areas. “Arrest those who violate the Election code, charge them and pursue their cases in court - that is my order to all our police officers. As such, I am requesting all candidates and stakeholders in this coming elections to exercise prudence and fair play,” he said.
The NCRPO director also instructed his men to remain non-partisan and to always side with what is right. “I have guided all NCRPO police officers to act in accordance with their mandate and conscience - to be above political affairs, to be fair, judicious and determined to uphold the integrity of the elections. Safety and security is everybody’s concern. We can assure the success of this 2019 Midterm Elections through the cooperation of the public,” he said.
With Melnie Ragasa-Jimena