PNP leadership optimistic today’s polls will be generally peaceful, successful

THE Philippine National Police leadership headed by Director General Oscar D. Albayalde yesterday expressed confidence there will be a generally peaceful and orderly national and local elections nationwide today with all security leaks already plugged and the PNP, together with the Armed Forces on full alert to thwart any effort to undermine the polls.

PNP National Security Task Force HOPE (Honest, Orderly and Peaceful Elections) 2019 commander and PNP Deputy Chief for Operations, Lieutenant General Archie Francisco F. Gamboa told the Journal Group  they have long prepared for today’s elections—the preparations having started during the 2nd semester of 2018—and are highly confident it would be a peaceful and orderly one.

Gamboa said their barometer in declaring a successful election is only one: that there would be no failure of election in any part of the country.

“This would mean that polling centers are opened on time, all voters who are voting (because some would opt not  to vote) are able to vote and polling centers are also closed on time because this would mean timely transmission. And finally, the return of all Comelec materials to the Treasurers’ Office.

These are assured as we have planned for this since the 2nd semester of 2018. I hope and pray that this would be so. We are fully prepared for the 2019 mid-term national and local elections,” Gamboa said.

Last Thursday Gamboa  joined Comelec and Armed Forces officials in  sealing Vote Counting Machines in Kalayaan Island in Palawan where he said the PNP has completed its security preparations for the elections.  “It’s green and go nationwide as far as police election security operations is concerned,” he said.

The official flew in to Kalayaan,  the Philippines’ remotest municipality in the West Philippine Sea to personally assess police security preparations for the holding of elections in Barangay Pag-asa, the single barangay in the Kalayaan Island Group, a 5th class municipality that is home to more than 200 civilian residents.

Last Tuesday, Gen. Albayalde opened their National Election Monitoring Action Center (NEMAC) in Camp Crame as they went on full alert nationwide. The NEMAC headed by Brigadier General Florencio T. Ortilla will serve as the ‘nerve center’ of the PNP leadership as it monitors the start of the election until the casting of votes is over and the ballot boxes are transmitted to the Commission on Elections.

Open 24/7 this week, the PNP NEMAC hotlines are Globe (0916-3309158)  and Smart (0947-5207864).

Gen. Albayalde said the NEMAC will allow them to have a ‘real-time’ situation on the ground and 1st-hand information during the election. “We can even directly call concerned officers in the polling stations thru this hub which is using the latest technology,” he said.

Apart from guarding polling precincts, police are also securing the delivery of different election paraphernalia and equipment including VCM ballots boxes, VCM batteries, VRVS kits, Official Ballots and indelible inks to the different provincial capital and city and municipal treasurer’s office.

Gen. Albayalde said that over 160,000 policemen, beefed-up by troops from the Armed Forces will be securing 36,823 voting centers, 85,758 clustered precincts and 389,686 established precincts nationwide.

The polling centers are located in 42,045 barangays spread in 36 provinces, 36 chartered cities, 109 component cities, 1,489 municipalities in the country where there are a total of 61,843,750 registered voters.

Voters will be choosing from a total of 43,695 candidates including 273 gubernatorial bets, 185 vice-gubernatorial bets, 1,765 candidates for Sangguniang Panlalawigan posts; 632 candidates for congressional seats;  3,996 mayoralty bets composed of 428 vying for city mayoral post and 3,568 municipal mayoral post; 3,642 vice-mayoralty candidates; and 33,148 candidates for city and municipal councilors.

Gen. Albayalde said they are also fully monitoring the situation in the 946 election areas of concern in the country.

Official NEMAC records showed that from January 13 to yesterday, there have been 28 validated election-related incidents (ERIs) in the country which killed 14 people and wounded 13 others. Twenty others were unhurt in those incidents.