PNP: Day 1 of checkpoint operations 'generally peaceful'

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NCRPO Chief Guillermo Eleazar. (FILE PHOTO)

Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, January 13) — As election season began with the nationwide gun ban in full effect, the first day of the police checkpoint operations has been uneventful. 

This, according to National Capital Region Police Office (NCRPO) Chief Director Guillermo Eleazar who told CNN Philippines Sunday checkpoints began operating in several areas in Metro Manila around 12:01 a.m.

"On the entire operations since this morning until now, we haven't received any untoward incident, wala rin tayong naaresto na [we also haven't arrested any] motorist or passengers carrying firearms or deadly weapons," he said.

Eleazar added, however, that a tricycle driver who has sachets of shabu in his wallet was apprehended.

"Aside from that, it was very peaceful and I believe that sanay naman kasi yung ating mga kababayan [Filipinos are used] that we are conducting this checkpoint," he said.

He added the checkpoints were not different from the ones being conducted by the police from time to time, only that because of the election happening in a few months, the checkpoint operations are supervised by the Commission on Elections (Comelec).

The locations of all checkpoints are also pre-designated, Eleazar said, adding that they are located in well-lit areas and manned by uniformed policemen.


Meanwhile, Philippine National Police Police (PNP) Chief Oscar Albayalde is asking for the public's cooperation over the checkpoint operations.

"Hopefully ano, huwag na makipagtigasan ang ating mga motorista. Pinapakuusap natin sa kanila 'pag nakita nila ang checkpoint buksan na nila yung ilaw nila sa loob. Then ibaba na yung kanilang bintana para makita na agad ng pulis kung ano ang nasa loob," he said.

[Translation: Hopefully, motorists won't give anyone a hard time. We ask them to turn on their lights when they see the checkpoints. Then, roll down their windows so the police can see what's inside their vehicle.]

Penalties for violators include imprisonment from one to six years.

Reminders to candidates

Candidates in the upcoming elections, meanwhile, are barred from using police personnel or bodyguards, unless they are allowed by the Comelec.

The Police Security and Protection Group (PSPG) has recalled personnel from over a hundred incumbent politicians nationwide, and over 300 deployed personnel nationwide reported back to their respective stations on Sunday.

PSPG Director Filmore Escobal said exceptions could be granted.

"'Yung mga tinatawag natin na [The ones we call] high-risk individuals, they may be allowed to apply for another additional security. But they will have to apply it to Comelec...mga incumbent government officials na hindi naman tatakbo [incumbent officials who will not run for office], they may retain their security personnel but they have to apply," he said.

The PSPG has received over 50 applications for exemption from the removal of their police detail, including candidates running in some areas identified as election hot spots.

However, only candidates proven to be facing high levels of threat will be given police escorts.

Bearing, carrying, or transporting firearms is prohibited during the election period.

The Comelec also has yet to release a list of the 18 cities and municipalities identified as areas of concern.

CNN Philippines correspondent Makoi Popioco and senior digital producer Pia Garcia contributed to this report.