PHILIPPINE National Police chief, Director General Oscar D. Albayalde yesterday stressed that protection of human rights will remain a top policy of the PNP in the conduct of checkpoints and other operations aimed at ensuring a secure and fair presidential and national elections on May 13.
Gen. Abayalde said all Regional Special Operations Task Groups have been organized to conduct intelligence-driven law enforcement operations, search warrants, arrest of wanted persons and seizure of illegal weapons thru Oplan’ Sita’ and Operation ‘Bakal’ as part of their SAFE or ‘secure and fair elections’ program.
Joint Commission on Elections-PNP-Armed Forces checkpoints across the country have been put up to ensure that the strict gun measures will be carried to the hilt from January 13 to June 12 this year.
“The objective is to neutralize criminal elements and members of threat groups that normally become prominent during election period exploiting the situation in order to advance their respective interests,” the PNP chief said.
The PNP leadership has reiterated an order for all police units to strictly comply with the PNP standard operational procedure when it comes to the conduct of checkpoints aimed at arresting criminality and the presence of loose firearms in the streets.
Gen. Albayalde has ordered all 17 Police Regional Offices to put up checkpoints in strategic parts in their areas as one of their measures to arrest the flow of unauthorized firearms and other deadly weapons that could be used to sow violence during the poll period.
Under Comelec Resolution No. 10466, there will be a total ban on the bearing, carrying or transporting of firearms or other deadly weapons and the employment, availment or engagement of the services of security personnel or bodyguards during the May 13, 2019 national and local elections.
Thus, the PNP will go after persons who will be found committing election offenses including carrying of firearms in public without Comelec exemption since all Permits-to-Carry-Firearms-Outside-of-Residence issued by the PNP will be considered null and void during the period.
Police will also go after candidates including incumbent public officers who will be found employing, availing or engaging the services of security personnel or bodyguards, whether or not such bodyguards are regular members of the PNP, the Armed Forces and other law enforcement agencies.
Deadly weapons to be confiscated by the police during the election period include bladed instruments, hand grenades or other explosives, except pyrotechnics. However, a bladed instrument is not covered by the prohibition when possession of the bladed instrument is necessary to the occupation of the possessor or when it is used as a tool for legitimate activity.
However, Gen. Albayalde said these checkpoints are being manned by officers trained to ensure that the protection of human rights of all motorists will remain their priority. The PNP chief also said that he has ordered the deployment of more officer-led PNP checkpoints nationwide including in Metro Manila, all manned by policemen in uniform and must always have an official PNP vehicle to prevent the possibility of a ‘bantay-salakay’ involving some rogues in blue.