PNP probes Mindanao politicians’ link to criminal groups

MANILAThe Philippine National Police (PNP) on Monday said it continues to validate information regarding some politicians in Mindanao who are allegedly in cahoots with organized crime syndicates and the terrorist Abu Sayyaf Group to raise funds for next year's mid-term elections.

We are continuously validating reports of the active collusion by some local politicians with organized crime groups engaged in kidnapping for ransom, presumably for fund-raising purposes. Reports of this nature have been monitored in some parts of Mindanao particularly in known areas of operation of kidnapping gangs, PNP chief, Director General Oscar Albayalde said in a press briefing.

These are all based on the intelligence information that we gather. We have not established that there's collusion, that's why we need to develop and conduct of case buildup. But sometimes, you just have reason to (conclude) that there's collusion there, he added.

The PNP chief admitted that it is indeed difficult to gather physical evidence on the involvement of the politicians since they are also very careful in their movements.

Albayalde said that based on the information they have been receiving, there are less than 10 policemen in Mindanao who are maintaining private goons to do the dirty jobs for them, particularly on the aspect of raising campaign funds.

So, based on intelligence reports that we gather, kailangan namin mag-conduct ng (we need to conduct a) case buildup. And of course, this is quite dangerous due to the upcoming election. Hindi natin pwede pabayaan ito lalo na sa (we should not allow this, especially in parts of) Mindanao where incidents of kidnapping are still happening, he said.

He said the kidnappings usually occur in the western part of Mindanao, particularly in the Basilan and Zamboanga areas.

Albayalde earlier ordered a crackdown on guns-for-hire and private armed groups (PAGs) in July this year, following the series of killings of local officials in the country.

The PNP aims to disarm and neutralize hired guns and PAGs which are being tapped by politicians, especially during election period.

Since August this year, Albayalde said the PNP has neutralized 82 gun-for-hire syndicate members and confiscated 35 assorted firearms.

He said focused intelligence operations are now being directed against more or less 77 active PAGS with 2,071 members believed armed with an estimated 1,582 firearms.

A large majority of these active PAGs operate in the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao. (PNA)

Source: Philippine News Agency

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