This was according to Philippine National Police chief Director General Oscar Albayalde, who stressed that the PNP – along with the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) – would be working vigorously to ensure peaceful and orderly polls in May 2019 under the supervision of the Commission on Elections (Comelec).
Michael Varcas
Cops, military going after election guns
Cecille Suerte Felipe (The Philippine Star) - October 17, 2018 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines — As the campaign season nears, the police and military are poised for tougher and more coordinated operations against gun-for-hire groups and owners of loose firearms who could end up as private armed groups (PAGs) or security escorts of candidates and politicians – and potential perpetrators of poll-related violence.

This was according to Philippine National Police chief Director General Oscar Albayalde, who stressed that the PNP – along with the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) – would be working vigorously to ensure peaceful and orderly polls in May 2019 under the supervision of the Commission on Elections (Comelec).

The official campaign season begins in February.

“As deputized agencies of the Comelec, the AFP and PNP shall take frontline initiatives to carry out aggressive operations against loose firearms and gun-for-hire groups, some of which are known to double as PAGs during elections,” Albayalde said.

He has ordered an intensified monitoring of activities of PAGs as part of security preparations for next year’s midterm elections. He warned all commanders, from regional directors to provincial directors, of severe consequence if they fail to address the problems with such armed groups.

The PNP chief said he is also considering reassigning some officers who are related to candidates or incumbent officials seeking reelection. But he stressed such reassignment may be temporary.

“After the elections, we can put him back, especially if he has not committed any offense,” Albayalde said.

Earlier, Albayalde said the PNP has activated the National Task Force on Honest, Orderly and Peaceful Elections to make early preparations to address possible security concerns ahead of the May 2019 polls.

This developed as PNP spokesman Chief Supt. Benigno Durana Jr. described as generally peaceful and orderly the filing of certificates of candidacy (COCs) for the past four days.

He said security preparations set into motion two months ago were paying off. The filing of COCs is from Oct. 11 until today.

Durana said that as of the second quarter of 2018, the PNP has detected at least 77 active PAGs with 2,060 members and 1,574 firearms.

Of the 77 armed groups, 72 are reportedly based in the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao.

He said the police are also monitoring 226 inactive groups with 2,028 members and about 1,000 firearms.

The PNP spokesman noted most militias are “seasonal” in nature and mostly based in Mindanao.

He said the PNP is determined to stop any PAG from engaging in violence during the elections.

Durana also named Abra as a potential election hotspot, judging from the level of violence reported in the province during the 2010 and 2016 polls.

Meanwhile, the AFP is also implementing rotation of assignments for militiamen to prevent them from being used for partisan purposes by local politicians during the elections.

AFP chief Gen. Carlito Galvez said that while President Duterte’s instruction to the military is very clear – that no soldier should engage in partisan politics – the message might not be so clear to members of Citizens Armed Forces Geographical Unit (CAFGU).

“Our strategy here is to rotate their (CAFGU) assignments to other areas as what the Philippine National Police has been doing,” Galvez said at the Joint Peace and Security Coordinating Council meeting at Camp Crame yesterday.

“We in the military have established distance with different officials (politicians). Even civil-military officials are prohibited from conducting activities during elections,” Galvez said.

Political warlords, in troubled areas, often enlist the services of armed groups to influence the outcome of the elections. In some instances, some members of the armed groups came from the ranks of militiamen from local government units.

Just like the PNP, Galvez said the military’s main concern in the upcoming midterm elections is the proliferation of armed groups that could be hired by unscrupulous politicians to eliminate their opponents.

For the AFP, election hotspots are mostly in Mindanao and in the Cordillera Administrative Region, particularly in Abra.

Based on threat assessments, candidates from these possible election-troubled areas can be allowed to have military or police escorts. with Jaime Laude

2019 MIDTERM ELECTIONS ARMED FORCES OF THE PHILIPPINES PHILIPPINE NATIONAL POLICE PRIVATE ARMED GROUPS
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