By Chito Chavez
Interior and Local Government Sec. Eduardo has directed the Philippine National Police (PNP) to provide security assistance to persons with validated actual threats, enforce measures to protect all political aspirants regardless of party affiliations, and prevent lawless elements from creating panic and havoc that would endanger human lives.
Año issued the directive after noting the surge of killings in recent months which appear to be politically motivated.
President Duterte earlier ordered the DILG to address the spate of killings he described as “political terrorism.”
Last month, AKO Bicol Party-list representative Rodel Batocabe and his police escort were killed during a gift-giving event in Daraga, Albay. Batocabe earlier filed his certificate of candidacy for mayor of Daraga.
On the same day, former mayor Joelito Talaid of Kadingilan town in Bukidnon was gunned down.
“The PNP should take offensive and preventive measures. We should be several steps ahead of those who resort to violence to win an election. Dapat tayong maging mapagbantay at handa para mapigilan ang anumang kaguluhan (We should always be on guard and be ready to prevent any untoward incident),” Año, a former AFP Chief of Staff said.
The PNP, he added should intensify police interventions, operations, and police visibility even before the start of the official election campaign period to show the readiness of law enforcement authorities in thwarting any criminal acts of lawless groups including the communist rebels.
According to Año, local police should immediately coordinate with local officials and candidates in order to secure their places of engagements, if needed, and provide security assistance to persons with validated actual threats, among others.
“This is in addition to the security and protection personnel that they could request from the PNP-PSPG,” he added.
The DILG chief, however, pointed out that local officials and candidates also have the responsibility to be extra careful and vigilant in protecting themselves.
The PNP-Police Community Relations Group will soon come out with a “Handbook on Personal Security for Candidates to Government Elective Positions” which gives useful precautionary tips to candidates and their security teams as they carry out their campaign during the election season.
The DILG had admitted the police cannot totally secure the safety of all the candidates or even ordinary citizen “every single moment of the day’’ stressing their responsibility to protect themselves and their families.
Ano asked the political candidates to immediately inform the police if there are “threats to their lives or if they need police security and assistance.”