Philippine police set up checkpoints as election season heats up

MANILA (Xinhua) – Philippine police began setting up checkpoints in strategic locations across the country yesterday to intercept guns, explosives and other weapons of violence that could be used by criminals and armed groups as the election season heats up.

Philippine National Police (PNP) chief Director General Oscar Albayalde said he has issued a flash memorandum to all its regional directors to implement simultaneous operations for the 2019 national and local midterm elections scheduled on May 13.

The 150-day election period officially began yesterday.

An election gun ban also took effect yesterday, meaning that carrying or transporting firearms or other deadly weapons are prohibited during the period.

Only qualified people or entities are exempted from the policy but they need to apply for the appropriate certificate of authority at the Commission on Elections (Comelec).

The public is also reminded on the ban of employing or engaging the services of private bodyguards.

“At past midnight of January 13, the PNP will establish strong checkpoints in strategic locations across the country to intercept guns, explosives and other instruments of violence including illegal security personnel that may mar the holding of peaceful, credible and fair midterm elections in May,” the PNP said in a statement.

The order directed all regional police offices “to establish at least one checkpoint in each of the country’s 1,600 cities and municipalities in coordination with the local Comelec officer and Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) territorial unit in the area.”

Coinciding with the simultaneous launch of election checkpoint operations is the activation of regional and provincial election monitoring and action centres that will keep tab of all activities and significant accomplishments related to the 2019 midterm elections, the statement added.

A liquor ban will also be enforced from May 12 to May 13.

The official campaign season begins on February 12 and ends on May 11 for senators and party-list groups, while the campaign period for members of the House of Representatives and regional, provincial, city, and municipal officials will begin from March 30 to May 11.

Preventive security measures are being carried out to avert election-related violence as politicians vie for a position or control of their political turf.

The Government of President Rodrigo Duterte is hoping for an honest, orderly and peaceful elections in May.

Several election-related killings have been recorded in the past months.