By Alexis R. Milan
A police department memo from Commissioner of Police (ComPol) Allen Whylie, ordering all formations to stand down from vehicular checkpoints, is causing concern among citizens and the opposition. But the Ministry of National Security assures the public it has done so in the interest of security.
The memo, dated October 13th, which is signed by Operations Commander Keith Lino on the ComPol’s behalf, instructs that: “…effective immediately you are to stand down from all vehicular checkpoints countrywide as per Commissioner’s directive.”
It adds, if the need arises for a checkpoint in any particular area , officers must consult with the Commissioner directly for his approval.
The Reporter made numerous attempts to contact Whylie but was told that he would not be available for interview. Whylie was not willing to do an over-the-phone interview, nor was he willing to sit and meet with any member of the press.
The People’s United Party (PUP) Deputy Leader Julius Espat described the decision as “erroneous” and argued that there is need for more, not less security during the heightened political season, especially on nomination day, as thousands mobilize across the country. He said the PUP is concerned about the decision as it can allow for those with negative intentions to travel freely.
Ministry of National Security Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Colonel George Lovell categorically rejected the allegation that the order was made as a way to facilitate immigrants crossing the border to participate in the November 4th General Elections in support of the government. Lovell described that allegation as “ludicrous”.
He said it is unfortunate that a group of officers decided to leak the private Police Department document and turn a legitimate decision into a political matter. He added that the Ministry is also concerned about the leaks from within the Department.
He defended the ComPol, saying Whylie is well within his right to give a directive to stand down. Lovell said Whylie was simply being considerate by responding to complaints that checkpoints along the road have become burdensome and inconvenient to commuters.
According to Lovell, the stand-down order shouldn’t cause any concern for public security because the use of a checkpoint is only one method of policing and the Department has proven to be successful and efficient in other methods of enforcement as well.
PUP Standard Bearer for Cayo West Lesbia Guerra, this week, made allegations against the Election and Boundaries office in Benque, on suspicion that employees may be working late at night to register immigrants who, according to her, have been seen entering the country by the truckloads. Chief Elections Officer Josephine Tamai confirmed that all Election and Boundaries offices remain open late at night during the election season but only to prepare the election machinery. An election officer at the Benque office has also accused one of Guerra’s companions of assaulting her and has filed charges with the police.