Pangasinan cops still on full alert after polls

DAGUPAN CITY — The alert level of the police in Pangasinan has already been lowered from heightened to full few days after the May 9 election as policemen are on guard against possible post-election related incidents and tension that may arise.

This was bared by Supt. Jackie Candelario, police deputy police director, who said while they are in full alert, no policeman is still allowed to file his leave and head to their respective homes.

He said during the Kapisanan ng mga BrodKasters sa Pilipinas (KBP) forum on Thursday that they will continue to be on full alert till such time that all the Vote Counting Machines (VCMs) are collected and returned to the Comelec warehouse in Sta. Rosa, Laguna.

The more than 1,000 VCMs used in the May 9 elections are now being secured by policemen in three Comelec hubs, namely Alaminos, Dagupan and Alaminos cities for pick up by a truck that will bring them to a Smartmatic warehouse in Laguna.

That will be the time that the policemen guarding the Comelec hubs can return to their respective stations but not to their homes, said Candelario.

He said checkpoint operations by the police in various parts of Pangasinan are still continuing to prevent any post-election violence and tension that may be fanned by losing candidates and their supporters.

Meanwhile, Candelario said that the augmentation forces of more than 400 from the police and military that were deployed to Pangasinan during the election, already pulled out as of 5 p.m. of May 10, leaving only the local-based policemen on duty.

Some of the augmentation forces were formed into disruption/distraction teams which were mobilized to check the reported vote-buying and selling as well as harassment of voters in various parts of Pangasinan.

He admitted that he was ground commander of these disruption/distraction teams which acted on 141 text messages sent of by various concerned citizens of alleged vote-buying and selling.

Candelario said they arrested some people allegedly involved in vote-buying as well as selling in Binmaley town but these were eventually released as no one is willing to file complaints.

Overall, he said, the election in Pangasinan was generally peaceful and orderly with no untoward incident that has happened, except the reported vote-buying and selling.

He said only two election-related incidents which were both for mauling were listed, one in Sison and another in Urbiztondo. Both of these happened long before the election.

He said that in Bayambang, the number one town in Pangasinan placed under the watch list, surprisingly was among the most peaceful town during the election, probably because all the candidates there stood up by the peace covenants they signed earlier. PNA/