K9 UNITS join the ceremonial send-off on May 7 at the Camp Aquinaldo Grandstand for military and police forces that will be deployed nationwide to secure the May 13 midterm elections. — PHILSTAR/MIGUEL DE GUZMAN
A TOTAL of 247,830 police and military officers will be deployed nationwide to secure the midterm elections on May 13.
The Philippine National Police (PNP) will have 149,830 personnel in more than 36,000 polling centers nationwide on election day.
“We are already on full alert status and as of this time, we have partial deployment already in the different hubs,” said PNP chief Gen. Oscar D. Albayalde in a joint press briefing with the AFP and the Commission on Elections (Comelec) on Tuesday.
The AFP, on the other hand, is sending out 98,000 soldiers, of which 40,000 were already deployed to conduct clearing operations at the routes for the delivery of election paraphernalia.
AFP chief-of-staff Gen. Benjamin R. Madrigal Jr. said most of the deployed military personnel will secure places under high threat of communist rebels.
“Ang bulk ng ating pwersa (The bulk of our forces) are those in the areas that are threatened by communist terrorists as well as local terrorist groups, especially in Mindanao and in the hinterland areas in Luzon and Visayas,” Mr. Madrigal said.
Mr. Albayalde also noted that 1,404 police personnel were trained by the Comelec to serve as substitute election inspectors should the need arise.
“Just in case po na kailanganin na mag (there is a need to) substitute (for the) EBs or election boards,” he said.
The PNP chief added that a “battalion” of reserved officers will be on standby at the national headquarters in Camp Crame on the day of elections.
The PNP also launched on Tuesday the National Election Monitoring Action Center that will help the police keep track of the real-time situation on the ground, including the delivery of vote counting machines.
Almost 1.16 million government personnel — including the AFP, PNP, and Comelec manpower — and private sector representatives will provide services and assistance during next week’s polls.
The partner agencies and groups are the Department of Education, Department of Health, Parish Pastoral Council for Responsible Voting, and Manila Electric Co.
Meanwhile, the National Citizens’ Movement for Free Elections (NAMFREL) said it would not stay out of the election activities despite its pullout as a Comelec partner.
“NAMFREL has not closed its doors in participating in the Random Manual Auditing. We can go there to the audit site to observe the process. We have offered to assist the Comelec in a lot of matters,” said NAMFREL national council member Lito Averia in a forum on Tuesday.
NAMFREL withdrew from the partnership after Comelec limited its operation in the conduct of the Random Manual Audit.
“We have presented to Comelec our proposed Open Election Data Program, which we truly believe can greatly help Comelec in protecting the sanctity of this year’s mid term elections so that a clean, transparent and credible election may be achieved. We do not see anything wrong or detrimental to Comelec’s interest in our request. All is towards the pursuit of transparency,” said NAMFREL Chairperson Augusto Lagman.
In another election-related development, party-lists Bayan Muna and Kabataan denied the claims of the military that campaign materials of their groups were found in a camp of the communist New People’s Army (NPA) in Palawan.
“Based on the reports of our members in Palawan, the AFP apparently took Bayan Muna and Kabataan posters from the common poster areas and then maliciously presented them as having been recovered from a supposed, phantom NPA camp,” said Bayan Muna Rep. Isagani T. Zarate in a statement on Tuesday.
Kabataan Rep. Sarah I. Elago called the AFP “desperate.”
“Its massive propaganda against progressives in the guise of anti-drug and anti-terrorism campaigns has failed to bear fruit. Contrary to the results desired by state forces, the party-lists linked by its Western Command to the NPA have achieved promising ranks in the recent election surveys,” she said. — Vince Angelo C. Ferreras with a report from Gillian M. Cortez