MANILA, Philippines - Interior and Local Government Secretary Mar Roxas on Monday assured that the police will not hesitate to crack down on erring public officials during the 2013 elections even if they are members of the Liberal Party.
"We will make sure that the elections are secure and fair. The PNP will treat everyone fairly. We will not take side nor let party membership be an issue in preserving the peace," Roxas said.
“We want to show that the elections are different under the administration of President Benigno S. Aquino III to ensure that the will of the people is truly reflected in the elections. Under our democracy, elections are most important so that we can hear the voice of our people, our Bosses,” he added.
Roxas said one of the characteristics of elections under the Aquino administration is the early preparation of the Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) and the Philippine National Police (PNP) to ensure a smooth, peaceful and orderly electoral process.
“We are two-and-a-half months earlier in our preparations. We did not wait for the campaign period to start,” he said. “There is a logical identification of high-risk areas, as well as the rational deployment of personnel and resources."
Earlier, the PNP identified 15 provinces considered as high-risk areas in terms of political violence. These are Abra, Pangasinan, Cagayan, Ilocos Sur, La Union, Pampanga, Nueva Ecija, Batangas, Cavite, Masbate, Samar, Misamis Occidental, Maguindanao, Lanao del Sur and Basilan.
Roxas said that these provinces were included in the priority watch list based on several factors and objective criteria, including the presence of private armed groups (PAGS), loose firearms, intense political rivalries, past history of election violence, and the presence of other threat groups like terrorists and communist rebels, among others.
The PNP estimates there are around 363,000 loose firearms nationwide, with another 571,303 firearms with expired licenses as per the records of the Firearms and Explosives Office.
“We do not want to be caught flat-footed. We are already creating Special Task Forces for each of these provinces with a command structure that will allow them to assist the provincial commander in the maintenance of peace and order,” Roxas said.