by John Paul M. Omac and Belle Marjorie A. Dela Vega
The Los Baños Philippine National Police (PNP) together with the Commission on Elections (COMELEC) continue to intensify their efforts to prevent crime and promote order in the municipality in preparation for the upcoming May 2013 elections.
“Handang-handa na ang kapulisan ng Los Banos”, assures Police Chief Inspector Conrado Masongsong, chief of Los Banos PNP, four months before the 2013 elections.
The local police has set up checkpoints along the national highway starting January 13 in line with the start of the nationwide gun ban. The gun ban aims to strengthen the campaign against loose firearms and possible private armies in order to reduce election-related crimes.
Randy Banzuela, the Los Baños Election Officer III, has oriented the police on the proper conduct of checkpoints to ensure that the proper procedures will be implemented and that the rights of the public will be protected,
Police Senior Inspector Anastacia Luis, who heads of the three rotating teams conducting the checkpoints, explained that they have instructed their men to abide by the guidelines and protocols given by the COMELEC. She emphasized that checkpoints should be in a well-lit place with a visible sign, a police mobile car should be present in the area of the checkpoint, and should be manned by uniformed policemen. A commanding police officer in proper uniform must also be present to supervise the operation. Ps/Insp. Luis said that they also reminded the police men to be courteous and polite when during inspections. “Mas magkakaroon ng pagkakaunawan kung magiging magalang tayo sa isa’t-isa”, she stated.
Though motorists experience delays because of the checkpoint, they gave positive feedback. “Ayos to. Para sa safety rin natin”, says Sonny Magalac, a resident of Bambang, Los Baños.
Aside from the checkpoints, the Los Baños police is also set to intensify police visibility through security patrols. Despite insufficient funds, local police have innovated a way to a carry out security patrols by using the personal motorcycles of some of the members of the force.
The election period has officially started on January 12, 2013 and will last until May 12, 2013. The local police force is now working closely with the COMELEC. Masongsong explains that this means that gun ban is strictly implemented. All those caught with firearm without approved exemption from the gun ban will be arrested even if they have ‘permit to carry’. COMELEC will be notified first about all the arrests and other related actions.
Masongsong also said that they are strengthening their intelligence and monitoring programs to deter and intercept people with illegal motives.
Furthermore, local candidates will sign a peace covenant this coming March as part of the campaign of the Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) for a Secure and Fair Elections (SAFE) to preserve the safety of the constituents and guard the integrity of the polls.