Police authorities in Metro Manila, where 13 million people live, have deployed more than 4,000 of their men to monitor areas where petty crimes might be committed with the start Friday of the local election campaign.
Lt. Col. Jenny Tecson, NCRPO public information chief, said police would be enforcing health protocols in political rallies and were expecting incidents of snatching, pickpocketing, and other crimes in crowded political rallies in the 16 cities and one town of the metropolis.
Tecson said local police can also be tapped to manage vehicular traffic to ensure that motorists will not be inconvenienced by campaign rallies.
This emerged as the Philippine National Police said it had not monitored any “credible threat” to the elections as the campaign period for local candidates began.
In a radio interview, PNP spokesperson Col. Jean Fajardo said based on data on the previous elections, they were monitoring areas in Mindanao such as the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao and Region 12 (Soccskargen) due to the presence of private armed groups and Region 8 (Eastern Visayas) due to the presence of communist terrorist groups.
Fajardo said security in these areas would be augmented with the help of the Armed Forces of the Philippines and Regional Mobile Force Battalion.
Aside from ensuring peace and order during the campaign for local and national positions, she said they are also keeping a close watch on possible violations on the part of the candidates and their supporters.
Meanwhile, the Commission on Elections said no major concerns had been reported at the start of the 45-day campaign period of local candidates.
“Compared to previous elections, the infractions of the candidates seem to be so far manageable and within the expectations that we set. (Compliance with) health protocols and compliance with our campaign guidelines are our continuing plea to them and to their supporters,” Commissioner George Erwin Garcia said in a message to reporters when asked for an assessment.
He also reminded candidates and their supporters to be mindful of the campaign guidelines set by the Commission.
Asked if they are ready to file motu proprio charges against campaign violators, Garcia said, “Yes. The seriousness of our resolve should never be underestimated by everyone.”
There are a total of 18,023 local seats are up for grabs in the forthcoming local elections.
Of this number, there are 845 positions where candidates are running unopposed.
Some 253 posts are for members of the House of Representatives, 81 seats each for provincial governor and vice-governor, 782 members of Sangguniang Panlalawigan, 1,634 seats each for city/municipal mayor and vice mayor, and 13,558 seats for the city/municipal councilors.
The poll body also said Cebu is at the top of the list of 10 provinces with the highest number of registered voters, with 3,288,778.
It is followed by Cavite with 2,302,353; Pangasinan, 2,096,936; Laguna, 2,045,687; Bulacan, 2,007,523; Negros Occidental, 1,946,639; Batangas, 1,819,071; Iloilo, 1,628,752; Rizal, 1,601,962 and Pampanga, 1,589,473.