With the spate of killings directed mostly to political candidates, Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) Secretary Eduardo M. Año directs the Philippine National Police (PNP) to step up measures to ensure the safety and security of local officials and candidates in the 2019 midterm elections.
“The PNP should take offensive and preventive measures. We should be several steps ahead of those who resort to violence to win an election. Dapat tayong maging mapagbantay at handa para mapigilan ang anumang kaguluhan,” says Año.
“The PNP should intensify police interventions, operations, and police visibility. Bago pa man magsimula ang kampanya, ipakita na natin na laging nakaalerto ang kapulisan para magdalawang-isip ang mga gustong manggulo sa eleksyon,” he says.
Año issued the directive to the PNP after noting the surge of killings in the recent months which appear to be politically motivated. President Duterte also ordered the DILG to address the spate of what he called as “political terrorism.”
Last December, AKO Bicol party-list representative Rodel Batocabe, along with his police escort, was killed while he was about to ride his vehicle from a gift-giving event in Albay. Batocabe had earlier filed his certificate of candidacy for mayor of Daraga in the province.
Earlier on the same day, former mayor Joelito Talaid of Kadingilan town in Bukidnon was gunned down as he was about to alight from his vehicle to buy fruits.
According to Año, local police should immediately coordinate with local officials and candidates in order to secure their places of engagements, if needed, and provide security assistance to persons with validated actual threats, among others.
“This is in addition to the security and protection personnel that they could request from the PNP-PSPG,” he says.
The DILG Secretary, however, pointed out that local officials and candidates also have the responsibility to be extra careful and vigilant in order to protect themselves. He says that the PNP-Police Community Relations Group will soon be coming out with the "Handbook on Personal Security for Candidates to Government Elective Positions" which gives useful precautionary tips to candidates and their security teams as they carry out their campaign during the election season.
“The police cannot secure every single candidate or citizen every single moment of the day. Tungkulin din ng mga kandidato na mag-ingat at protektahan ang sarili nila at ang kanilang pamilya,” he says.
He urges them to immediately inform local police if there are threats to their lives or if they need police security and assistance.
“Kailangan din natin ng kooperasyon ng publiko para ireport sa kapulisan ang anumang kahina-hinalang aktibidad sa kanilang lugar,” says Año.
Photo by Bullit Marquez/AP/Philstar