MANILA The Philippine National Police (PNP) is beefing up its preparations for next week's mid-term elections as it launched the National Election Monitoring Action Center (NEMAC) aimed at overseeing situations across the country.
PNP chief, Gen. Oscar Albayalde said the NEMAC will monitor situations in all polling centers from Camp Crame, including the arrival of vote counting machines (VCMs), counting of ballots, and delivery of ballot boxes.
"This will give us real time situation on what is happening on the ground, including the delivering of VCMs in different polling centers and from here, if we want to know the situation there, we could just click on a certain polling center and we will know who are deployed there and we can call directly to that police officer who is deployed in that specific polling center," Albayalde told reporters in a press briefing on Tuesday.
Through this, Albayalde said, the PNP is able to step up its monitoring through the help of technology.
"Now, we use social media. We use everything. In the past, we are calling each other. We have the NEMAC now, as compared to the past when everything is Jurassic (old-fashioned). There are times when you cannot even contact the person on the ground, he stressed.
Via the internet, police officers can also send videos and pictures of the situation in polling centers for better monitoring purposes, Albayalde said.
In areas where mobile signal is weak, Albayalde said police personnel would just have to go to the nearest police stations since it is assured that there are strong signals in those areas.
He said NEMAC will be manned by 60 police personnel led by Brig. Gen. Florencio Ortilla, head of the PNP National Operations Center.
Albayalde said the PNP will deploy 150,000 police personnel in different parts of the countries to assure the safety and security of the public during the May 13 elections.
He said 1,404 cops were trained by the Commission on Elections (Comelec) as Board of Election Inspectors so that they may take over in case some teachers are not able to report on the day of elections.
Albayalde said they have yet to detect any security threats for the polls.
With regards to threats, we have not monitored any. What we see here as threats are, of course, the intense political rivalry, as usual. We've been preparing for this for the past several months already, including the Armed Forces of the Philippines, he said.
The PNP chief, however, said they are not letting their guard down, especially in Mindanao where threats from local terrorist groups and other lawless elements are prevalent.
The PNP chief said that as of this time, 28 election-related violence incidents (ERVI) have been recorded.
I hope this number will not increase anymore so we are appealing to all the candidates to be calm. Let's conduct this election in a very peaceful manner, Albayalde added.
Although the figures for this year may increase since the election period is not yet over, this year's ERVI figures are significantly low as compared to 94 ERVIs recorded in 2013 and 106 in 2016.
He said the sharp decrease in ERVIs can be attributed to the strict security measures implemented by both the PNP and the Armed Forces in cooperation with other law enforcement agencies, cooperation of candidates to prevent violence.
Albayalde said the other factors which may have contributed to the low ERVIs were the PNP's application of search warrants on known criminal lairs, guns-for-hire, and members of private armed groups and application of warrants of arrest on wanted persons. (PNA)
Source: Philippines News Agency