PNP monitoring private armed groups before 2023 barangay, SK elections
The Philippine National Police (PNP) is monitoring three active and 45 potential private armed groups (PAGs) before the barangay and Sangguniang Kabataan (SK) elections in October.
In a statement, PNP chief Gen. Benjamin Acorda, Jr. said: “The PNP is also continuously monitoring the activities of three active private armed groups and 45 potential PAGs that may mobilize for the 2023 barangay and SK elections in October.”
For his part, PNP Public Information Office head Brig. Gen. Redrico Maranan said Acorda had directed regional directors and national operational support units to strengthen the campaign against the “threat groups”.
“These PAGs, based on our records are involved with murder and harassment cases, especially during elections. Based on our historical data, the election candidates and their supporters are subjected to their harassment,” Maranan said at a press briefing.
“That’s what we want to avoid in the coming barangay and SK elections. We want the upcoming elections to be smooth and peaceful,” he added.
Maranan said police are mainly focusing on monitoring potential private armed groups in Central Luzon, Bicol Region, Western Visayas, Caraga, and Cordillera Administrative Region.
The PNP is planning to have intelligence-driven law enforcement operations in dealing with private armed groups.
“If the ground commanders think there should be search warrant operations to confiscate the illegal firearms, it’s up to them. If the members of the PAGs have pending warrants of arrest, then we will arrest them and ensure that the next election will be quiet and peaceful,” Maranan told reporters.
He said that unscrupulous individuals linked to the elections could be using PAGs.
“Basically, we can say that the unscrupulous individuals connected to the elections can use them, but they can also be used in other ways, for personal and business rivalry. So, we will be looking into that,” he said.
Based on the Commission on Elections’ (Comelec) calendar of activities, the barangay and SK elections are scheduled on October 30.
This is in line with the law signed by President Ferdinand Marcos, Jr. last year which changes the date of the polls from December 2022 to the last Monday of October 2023. Jaspearl Tan/DMS