PALO, Leyte—Director General Ricardo Marquez, National Police chief, emphasized during his latest visit to the police regional command here that ensuring the peaceful conduct of the May 9 elections is not just under the scope of responsibility of the police but also of the Armed Forces and the Commission on Elections (Comelec).
This, Marquez said, is because of a joint guideline agreed upon by the three agencies this month to supervise peace and security efforts for the May 9 elections.
These same guidelines, Marquez added, were among the directives he reiterated with police officials in the region during the meeting, particularly in creating and implementing a joint security plan in the area, for all phases of the elections.
“Together with the Comelec and the Armed Forces, we would like to emphasize that this [peace-keeping task] is not only the police’s job. We are once again giving more life and power to this partnership with this joint letter directive as we join forces in securing the communities with the conduct of this national exercise,” Marquez said in a news briefing.
Under the Armed Forces-National Police Joint Operational Guidelines, Joint Security Control Centers (JSCCs) in all regions will be activated to oversee internal security and counterterrorism operations by both agencies.
The public may also report violations of election laws, such as the firearm ban, through text messages to their respective JSCCs.
Police and military forces are also expected to establish joint checkpoints with the Comelec and organize a task group dedicated to the dismantling of identified private armed groups.
The guidelines also define the decorum expected of military and police personnel during the election period.
Meanwhile, Marquez downplayed reports that killings are rampant in Samar province, particularly in the city of Calbayog.
Marquez said that, contrary to claims that killings happen everyday in the city, thus, earning for it the monicker “Killbayog,” there has only been a few killings disproving that shooting and killing spree occur on a daily basis.
“The figure does not say it happens that way. Hindi naman araw-araw. It would be unfair to say that for Calbayog and for the rest of the province,” Marquez said.
He, however, assured that, together with the local leadership of the police Eastern Visayas command, there are enough security forces deployed to Samar province to ensure the peaceful conduct of the May 9 elections.
The province, particularly towns in the First District, has earlier been identified as an election area of concern or hot spot.