PNP on highest alert for polls
By Cecille Suerte Felipe
The Philippine Star
MANILA, Philippines – Police nationwide were placed on full alert Wednesday in preparation for the elections on Monday.
Philippine National Police (PNP) chief Director General Jesus Verzosa said the action is meant to ensure maximum availability of resources and personnel for election duties and regular law enforcement operations.
“The PNP and the AFP together with other law enforcement agencies are committed to ensure the orderly and peaceful conduct of the elections and will always be ready to help the Comelec in its objective of honest, orderly, and peaceful elections,” he said.
All leaves of the 130,000 policemen have been canceled and all personnel are required to report for duty, according to PNP spokesman Chief Superintendent Leonardo Espina.
More troops sent to Metro Manila
More troops were deployed yesterday in five cities in Metro Manila that had been identified as election hot spots.
Rear Admiral Feliciano Angue, Armed Forces National Capital Region Command chief, said between 150 to 180 soldiers were sent to Manila, Taguig, Makati, Caloocan and Pasay upon the request of the Metro Manila police.
“When the NCRPO wrote me to ask for company size units for reaction purposes to the said areas, we provided them,” he added.
Angue said Parañaque, Pasig, Valenzuela, Malabon and Quezon City were initially placed in the election watch list.
Military and police authorities decided to limit the list to five after further evaluation of the security condition, he added.
Puno: No road tolls for vehicles
Interior Secretary Ronaldo Puno warned governors and mayors yesterday against collecting toll from vehicles passing through their jurisdictions, especially those carrying election equipment and materials.
“The utmost cooperation and support of all local government authorities play a vital role in the attainment of a credible, honest and peaceful automated election on Monday,” he said.
Under the Local Government Code, the exercise of taxing powers of provinces, cities, municipalities and barangays shall not extend to the levy of fees upon goods, carried into or out of, or passing through, their territorial jurisdictions.
Puno said he expects local officials to ensure the timely and complete delivery of vote counting machines and other election equipment.
Governors, city and municipal mayors must exempt these delivery vehicles from truck ban hours, he added.
MILF: We will adhere to pact with military
The Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) assured the public yesterday that they will adhere strictly to the interim security pact with the military to help ensure peaceful elections.
Sammy al-Mansor, Bangsamoro Islamic Armed Forces chief, has directed his commanders to strictly abide with the security agreement.
Last week, Zainudin Abutazil, a candidate for mayor of Northern Kabuntalan town in Maguindanao, reported to the Comelec that MILF rebels have been removing campaign materials on houses of his supporters and common poster areas.
“People in these areas have been giving me feedback that these armed men are led by Ustadz Ameril Umbra Kato, a known commander of the MILF,” he said.
Col. Herbert Yambing, Central Mindanao’s Joint Security Coordinating Committee chief, said armed groups now roaming in far-flung barangays under his jurisdiction have been forcing residents to support their favored candidates.
“They are threatening voters of the serious repercussions of not voting for the candidates they support,” he said.
“If this will continue, we will have to bring in soldiers into these areas to stop these armed groups from disrupting the conduct of elections on May 10.”
OFWs arrive home to vote
Thousands of overseas Filipino workers arrived at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport yesterday to be able to vote in the elections on Monday.
Most of them came from Middle East countries, Taiwan and Hong Kong.
Yesterday, a Saudia Airlines plane arrived from Riyadh with 420 passengers, 95 percent of whom were OFWs, according to Rudy Sarmiento, airport immigration officer.
Analyn Oreta, of Kalibo, Aklan, said she was on a month-long vacation.
“I have not voted for so long, that’s why I came home,” she said.
She did not participate in the overseas absentee voting because she is registered in Aklan, her hometown, Oreta said.
Edwin Mercado of San Pedro, Laguna, said he ended his contract, which would expire on July, so he could vote on Monday.
“I have been working in the United Arab Emirates for the last three years, but I decided to come home early so as not to miss the election.”
He is an offshore surveyor, measuring the depth of the sea and determining where oil rigs could be constructed, Mercado said.
Marlen de la Cruz, a domestic helper in Hong Kong, said she came home because she lost her job due to the economic crisis.
De la Cruz, who hails from Calumpit, Bulacan, had been working in Hong Kong for the last five years. —With Alexis Romero, John Unson, Rudy Santos