CONGRATULATIONS are in order for PNP chief General Oscar ‘Odie’ Albayalde who passed his 1st acid test on Monday when police successfully guarded the synchronized Sangguniang Kabataan and Barangay elections and declared it generally peaceful.
Government critics are now raising the question why it has been described as peaceful although there were 35 recorded deaths but let me explain to them that the fatalities were recorded since the start of the election period last April 14 and not during the actual election day.
The successful security measures during the E-Day should be credited to the police force and the Armed Forces which provided muscle to the PNP to help thwart sinister moves from rogue barangay officials and their supporters in order to cling to their posts.
These barangay officials are known to have received huge support from governors, mayors and even congressmen who are seeing to it that their grassroots support will remain to help them win reelection or gain victory for their own bets in the forthcoming 2019 mid-term elections.
The Big Bike-riding Gen. Albayalde, unknown to the public toured different parts of Metro Manila to oversee the security preparations of his men on Monday. His mistah from PMA Class 1986, National Capital Region Police Office chief, Director Pikoy Cascolan also had a sleepless Sunday and Monday as he made sure that the elections in Metro Manila would be generally peaceful.
Last Monday’s poll was the 1st major security challenge that confronted Gen. Albayalde as PNP chief. He, with the help of his men, however passed it with flying colors using the same security template that made the Miss Universe 2016, the ASEAN and APEC events, the two Black Nazarene processions in Quiapo, Manila and the President’s State-of-the-Nation-Address since the former Davao City mayor own the presidency in 2016 a very huge success.
Gen. Albayalde was in the forefront of the security measures during the major security nightmares I mentioned above since he was the NCRPO chief during those times. However, with luck and the Almighty God’s blessings as well as the full support of the police and the public, he has succeeded and is expected to succeed further.
As PNP spokesman, Chief Superintendent John Bulalalao had said, the 2018 Barangay and Sangguniang Kabataan elections last Monday had been relatively peaceful and orderly in all regions of the country as the polls closed at 3 in the afternoon.
The PNP spokesperson said that the National Election Monitoring Action Center (NEMAC) in Camp Crame received reports of several isolated violent incidents before and during Election Day, that left 35 persons dead and 27 wounded in 47 separate cases of violence since the election period began 30 days ago on April 14.
Of these 47 cases, 7 were validated to be election-related while the investigation is underway to look into the remaining 40 cases. Meanwhile, 13 persons have died based on the validated Election Related Incidents. The election periods runs until May 21 or next Monday.
Bulalacao credited the PNP’s success to the Intensified police operations, mainly thru police response, checkpoint, gun check and search warrant operations which led in the arrest of 1,350 persons for various offenses including vote-buying; violation of the 48-hour liquor ban; and possession of firearms, explosives and bladed weapons.
An assortment of 1,157 firearms along with 7,926 rounds of live ammunition, 79 grenades, and 350 explosive devices were also seized by the police during the period thus effectively preventing the possibility that they could be used to disrupt the polls.
Let’s be grateful that indeed, there was no major trouble in known election ‘hot spots’ in the country particularly in Mindanao which is known for having a considerable presence of New People’s Army rebels and armed groups including the Abu Sayyaf and separatist guerrillas.
Let’s be thankful that last Monday, there were no recorded cases of ballot-snatching or a school being torched or poll officials or voters being shot or bombed. What happened were countless cases of alleged vote-buying with police arresting a number of suspected vote-buyers and charging them in court.
During the 2013 barangay elections, the PNP recorded 57 violent incidents which killed 33 persons and wounded 55 others. During the same period, police arrested 3,905 gunban and liquor ban violators and other election law offenders.
It’s also good to hear that Gen. Albayalde had said that they will pursue criminal and administrative charges against the more than 200 barangay officials who could have won in Monday’s elections although they were already included in the Duterte government’s ‘narco-list.’
Hear these words from the PNP Chief: “We will not spare them from investigation and punishment should they be proven to be involved in illegal drugs or any unlawful activities. What we can do is to further validate the allegations against them and conduct a case build-up if they are really in the drug watch list.”
A number of barangay officials named by Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency chair, Director General Aaron Aquino in the government’s ‘narco-list’ were reportedly on their way to another term, among them Alvin Mañalac, the chairman of Bgy. Tinajeros in Malabon City.