PNP asks Comelec to revoke personal security of politicians, candidates part of drug watch list

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, April 16) — The Philippine National Police (PNP) has asked the Commission on Elections (Comelec) to deny alleged "narco politicians" of personal security ahead of the midterm elections.

In a joint briefing by the two bodies together with the Armed Forces of the Philippines on Tuesday, Comelec chair Sheriff Abas confirmed the poll body has received a letter from the police asking them to effectively remove personal security escorts of politicians and candidates part of the government's drug watch list.

PNP Chief Oscar Albayalde said the move was done to be fair to candidates part of the narco list.

"Baka may mga nakapag-apply before at napirmahan namin at nabigyan na ng temporary security, kaya tayo nakipag-communicate sa Comelec para sila ang magbigay ng authority sa amin na immediately tanggalan ng security itong nasa narco list," Albayalde told reporters.

[Translation: Maybe there were candidates who have applied and were approved to have temporary security. That's why we're communicating with Comelec so that they can give us authority to immediately remove the security of those in the narco list.]

The police body earlier said it would provide security to the alleged narco officials should they receive death threats.

President Rodrigo Duterte in March named dozens of officials in a narco list he read aloud during a council meeting in Davao City. 

The police chief said that the provision of security is not a "matter of right"-- adding that it can even be revoked without notice.

"Provision of security is not a matter of right, it is a privilege that can be extended to anybody and it can be revoked any time also, even without notice actually," Albayalde argued.

Comelec, however, said it has yet to act on the recommendation as it is still being reviewed by authorities.

Election hotspots increase

Albayalde, in the same briefing, bared that areas tagged as election hotspots have increased from 923 to 936.

However, he said that the number of areas under the red category have dwindled from 574 to 540.

A category red means there may be sufficient grounds for Comelec to put an area under its control. The poll body can also direct more police and military forces "as the need arises."

READ: Comelec declares whole Mindanao, 3 other areas as election hotspots

Less than a month before the elections, authorities assured that the poll-related security problem remains "manageable" in the whole country.