AT FIRST look, they appeared to be just plain armed men commanding vehicles in tension-packed San Dionisio, Iloilo evening of May 12, 2019.
But a quick check revealed that police officers, who appeared to be conducting checkpoint sans any official signage and away from a supposed well-lighted area, are members of the Iloilo Police Provincial Office (IPPO), particularly the Anti-Vote Buying Task Force.
A photo circulating in social media showed men in plainclothes carrying high-powered firearms and walking to a vehicle while another photo showed another gun-wielding man standing on a vehicle with the drivers door opened.
Police Lieutenant Colonel Joem Malong, Police Regional Office 6 (PRO-6) spokesperson, said the information relayed to her indicated that the police officers responded to a call-up for assistance around 8:15 p.m. Sunday.
There was allegedly a stand-up between mayoralty candidate Peter Paul Lopez his nephew, Sangguniang Bayan member Roger Lopez, at Barangay Bagacay.
The San Dionisio Police Station subsequently pacified and settled the situation.
However, our Anti-Vote Buying Task Force, who are normally in civilian clothes, also responded to the call up. They alighted from their vehicles and introduced themselves as police officers, Malong said.
They allegedly helped in clearing the area of bystanders who might obstruct police response.
If there are protocols that were violated by the actions of the officers, Malong said these will be investigated.
Commission on Elections and PNP protocols provide that police checkpoints should be mounted in well-lighted areas and have official signage bearing the names of the local police chief and the election officer.
The checkpoint must also be manned by uniformed officers.
On Monday morning, the National Police Commission (Napolcom)-6 regional office led by Regional Director Joseph Celis proceeded to the fifth district to check why cops in civilian clothes were conducting checkpoints.
Celis said if the allegation is true, he will not tolerate any breach of police procedures and protocols. (With a report from Francis Allan L. Angelo)