PNP on nationwide heightened alert as campaign period for local polls starts

March 25, 2010 10:09 pm 

MANILA, March 25 -– The Philippine National Police (PNP) on Thursday ordered all its units nationwide to go on heightened alert status to maintain peace and order throughout the country as the campaign period for local candidates officially starts Friday.

Citing previous experiences during local elections, PNP spokesman Chief Supt. Leonardo Espina said the police organization is expecting some incidents related to the upcoming elections, particularly in the local level.

"We have long anticipated as experienced in the past elections that election-related violent incidents are at the local level and not on the national level," said Espina.

The declaration of heightened alert, which calls for half of the manpower of every police units to be on-duty, was part of the PNP’s efforts to maintain peace and order during the campaign period by conducting more beat patrol operations and maintaining high police visibility.

"So we have to be on guard and prevent violence from occuring at the local level, particularly in areas declared as immediate areas of concern," said Espina.

According to Espina, the PNP high command did not declare the highest alert status to give way for regional and police commanders to increase the security alert status one notch higher, if necessary.

"We have different situation in different areas so it is already a call of the regional and provincial commander whether or not they would elevate it to full alert status," said Espina.

The PNP has listed 571 localities under its Election Watchlist of Areas (EWA), representing 34.94 percent of nationwide election areas primarily in areas where domestic threat groups operate, and areas with a history of ERVI and where PAGs (Partisan Armed Groups) are reported to be active.

The PNP has also intensified election security operations in 118 EWAs in Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM), 50 in Eastern Visayas, 45 in Western Visayas, 44 in the Ilocos-Pangasinan Region, 41 in the Caraga Region, 38 in Central Luzon and others areas across the country.

The PNP recorded a total of 249 Election–Related Violent Incidents (ERVI) during the 2004 national elections resulting in the killing of 41 politicians and the wounding of 18 others. During the 2007 elections, a total of 229 ERVI was reported wherein 37 politicians were killed and 24 others were wounded.

Espina said the ERVI for this year's election is significantly lower compared to the two previous elections, apparently due to intensified campaign against illegal firearms and PAGs nationwide. There were only 30 ERVI since January 10 this year wherein 20 candidates were killed and 13 others were wounded. (PNA)

DCT/MM

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