THE single most important role of the Philippine National Police (PNP) during elections is to become “impartial and nonpartisan…deputies of the Commission on Elections [Comelec],” Undersecretary Eduardo M. Año, officer in charge of the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG), said last Sunday, on the eve of the barangay and Sangguniang Kabataan (BSKE) elections.
He also exhorted PNP officials and members to “focus all efforts in ensuring the peaceful and orderly conduct of the BSKE, [the policemen] being the country’s principal law-enforcement agency,” a news statement issued by the DILG’s Public Information Office read.
As such, Año told PNP chief Director General Oscar D. Albayalde to ensure that “all PNP units to work closely with Comelec field offices as directed by President Rodrigo Roa Duterte through Memorandum Order No. 21, which deputized the PNP and other law-enforcement agencies and instrumentalities of the government for the conduct of BSKE 2018.”
Año has specified the PNP’s job, saying “the PNP should coordinate with Comelec Elections Officers and Provincial Elections Supervisors [in] all activities and operations in relation to the village [and youth] polls and [also] follow all instructions from the commission.”
The DILG chief cited Republic Act 6713, RA 3019 and also the PNP Ethical Doctrine in order to justify the correctness and validity of his assertions that all “members of the PNP, as personnel working for the government and law-enforcement entity, shall provide services to everyone without discrimination regardless of party affiliation in accordance with existing laws and regulations.”
On their impartial and nonpartisan role in the elections, the DILG chief also instructed Albayalde to also make a decisive move to stop vote-buying directly or indirectly during the polls itself.
Albayalde should order all his cops to “take proactive steps in preventing vote-buying in the face of reports that alleged vote-buying has been occurring in some parts of the country,” Año said.
“All PNP units must intensify foot patrols in the barangays and increase police presence in order to deter incidents of vote-buying. And if there’s a report of alleged vote-buying, we must investigate immediately, since that is an election offense,” Año said.
He argued that all policemen should be on the lookout at all times to prevent vote buying.
The cops must “ensure that culpable parties are arrested and charged,” for intentionally violating the election law, he added.
Año admitted that he issued such marching order on vote-buying problem because the DILG has already received reports that there are several places where early buying of votes have been committed by those who are directly involved in this year’s political exercise.
The official campaign period has ended on May 12, and the synchronized elections will end by 5 p.m. on May 14.
Image credits: Roy Domingo