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Police tighten security as election period begins

17 January 2019

As the 150-day election period began, the Philippine National Police (PNP) started implementing tighter security measures such as a nationwide gun ban and setting up of police checkpoints across the country.

On May 13, Filipinos will vote into office a total of 18,095 officials nationwide, from senators to town councilors.

Registered overseas Filipinos will start voting on April 13 but the ballots will be kept at the posts until they are sent to Commission on Elections (Comelec) for counting at the end of voting on Election Day.

PNP Director General Oscar Albayalde said all police security details assigned to politicians would also be recalled.

The gun ban prohibits the carrying of firearms outside residences and suspends the processing and issuance of gun licenses.

Earlier last week, the PNP chief said only law enforcement personnel such as the police and military as well as civilians who were granted exemptions by the Comelec would be authorized to carry firearms during the period ending on June 2.

Starting midnight on Sunday, the PNP put up at least one checkpoint in each city and municipality nationwide, in coordination with the Comelec and the Armed Forces of the Philippines.

The PNP said the checkpoints sought “to intercept guns, explosives and other instruments of violence, including illegal security personnel that may mar the holding of peaceful, credible and fair midterm elections in May.”

With the security measures in place, the Comelec will also launch Regional and Provincial Election Monitoring and Action Centers to monitor the conduct of the campaign period.

The Comelec had warned candidates in the midterm elections they run the risk of being disqualified from taking office if their posters, billboards and other campaign materials were not taken down two days before the start of the campaign period on Feb. 12.

Comelec spokesperson James Jimenez said they expected the candidates to ramp up efforts to woo voters in the coming days, especially with the start of the election period.

Though it is still a month away from the official campaign period, Jimenez said the public could expect an increase in the visibility of candidates, particularly those running for a Senate seat.

The PNP has listed 18 towns and municipalities as election “hot spots.” The number does not include Daraga, Albay and Cotabato City, two trouble areas that the Comelec said should “also be watched.”

AFP chief of staff Gen. Benjamin Madrigal Jr. said they would immediately act on any report linking members of the military’s civilian auxiliary force to politicians’ private armed groups.

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