PNP monitors private armed groups ahead of 2019 polls

MANILA The Philippine National Police (PNP) continues to monitor private armed groups (PAGs) as part of security preparations for next year's midterm elections.

PNP spokesman, Chief Supt. Benigno Durana Jr., said that as of second quarter of 2018, they are monitoring 77 active PAGs with 2,060 members that have 1,574 firearms while there are 226 inactive armed groups with 2,028 members and has more than 1,000 firearms.

Durana said most PAGs are seasonal in nature and are mostly based in Mindanao, particularly the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM).

Ito yung (These are) inactive for a while. Pag pumasok na ang "market season", lumilitaw (they become active during the "market season"). Kaya bago pa man (ang eleksyon) ay inaaddress na natin. Itong tinitignan natin, kailangan meron kang baseline data bago ka sumugod (That is why we are addressing this ahead of the elections. We need to have baseline data before we can act). Alam natin na (We know that) knowing your enemy or knowing yourself then we can mean our campaign or war against private armed groups, Durana told reporters during the press briefing on Tuesday.

Durana added that they are validating the information that 72 out of these 77 active PAGs are based in ARMM.

Before they can flex their muscle, ika nga tinatarget na sila nung two months ago pa (as we said, they are being targeted two months ago), and definitely they will be held accountable. Si CPNP (PNP Chief Director General Oscar Albayalde) will hold accountable our territorial commanders from RDs and PDs their efforts to these performance indicators that the national headquarters have set for the field, he stressed.

The PNP spokesperson said the province of Abra is expected to remain as an election hotspot due to incidents of violence during the 2010 and 2016 polls.

"Magdedeploy tayo doon (Abra) ng SAF (We will deploy SAF units there), units not territorial to that particular place so that they will not be, we have this degree of confidence na they will not be influenced whatsoever by politicians and also to preempt any potential plans or activities of the private armed groups," Durana said.

The PNP has earlier directed all territorial units to go hammer and tongs against gunforhire syndicates and PAGs as the number of attacks against local officials and candidates increase ahead of the polls.

On Tuesday, PNP Director General Oscar Albayalde said that the reshuffle of police officials has already started.

Meron na tayong mga pinaglalagay na mga (We already put) provincial directors, (first, the Provincial Director of) Zambales (and) probably sunod yan sa may (the next is) Region 4A at dito sa (and here at the) NCRPO (National Capital Region Police Office), in all other parts of the country. Ito yung (This is) to give way to a fair and honest elections and to level the playing field kahit na dito sa mga (both for the) incumbent at sa mga kumakandidato (and for new candidates), Albayalde said in an ambush interview at Camp Bagong Diwa, Taguig City.

Puwede naman kasi meron din reshuffling na kapag meron nakita tayo na kamag anak nyang tumatakbo, pwede naman siya temporarily marelieve doon sa kanyang pwesto (We can do reshuffling if we see that they have a relative who is running. They can be temporarily relieved from their posts) and after the election, we can put him back lalo na kung wala naman syang naging kasalanan or (especially if they did not commit any) offense, the PNP Chief added. (PNA)

Source: Philippine News Agency

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