Philippine police on ‘full alert’ ahead of election

By Roy Ramos

ZAMBOANGA CITY, the Philippines (AA) – Philippine police were placed on “full alert” Saturday for the upcoming general election, with the armed forces set to follow suit over the week.

On May 9, tens of millions of Filipinos will go to the ballots to elect offficials for more than 18,000 posts including the country’s new president and vice president, as well as 12 senators. Other posts being contested include those in 81 provinces, 145 cities and 1,489 municipalities.

A Philippine National Police (PNP) spokesperson told radio station dzBB Saturday that all personnel were ordered to be ready for deployment under the full alert status, with all leaves cancelled.

“We are on full alert status starting today directed by PNP chief Director General Ricardo Marquez,” Chief Supt. Wilben Mayor said.

“Stop trainings, seminars… because all of them will be returned to their unit to maximize deployment,” he added.

He underlined that the PNP was also undertaking efforts to ensure that reserve forces would be available for deployment if additional officers were required in certain areas.

Military spokesperson Brig. Gen. Restituto Padilla also told dzBB that the Armed Forces of the Philippines would heighten their alert status next week.

“Our alert status is still normal… We go into full alert status next week,” GMA News also quoted him saying.

He underlined that the military had already increasing its monitoring of possible threat groups in the Philippines, where a number of armed Muslim groups and a communist insurgency operate — particularly in the southern region of Mindanao.

The presidential race is being contested by five politicians — frontrunner Rodrigo Duterte, Senator Grace Poe, former interior secretary Mar Roxas, outgoing Vice President Jejomar Binay and Senator Miriam Defensor Santiago.

The two latest surveys showed Duterte on a comfortable 10-point lead against Poe and Roxas, who were statistically tied.