Armed groups used by politicians: ‘Private armies’ in upland barangays

Armed groups used by politicians: ‘Private armies’ in upland barangays

CEBU, Philippines — Police are tracking down at least eight armed groups allegedly used as private armies of some politicians in Cebu City for the upcoming midterm elections.

Cebu City Police Office director Sr. Supt. Royina Garma said the groups are operating in the upland barangays of the city.

She, however, refused to reveal the names of the other barangays except Lusaran where two barangay tanods were killed after shooting it out with policemen Friday last week.

“May mga armed group, and last election we believed these are the people used by some politicians,” Garma told reporters.

“Meron pang natira na armed goons, walo ata yan na nasa bundok,” she added.

Garma also refused to reveal names of politicians.

The Commission on Elections has placed the city under orange category of election watchlist areas (EWAs) because of the series of killings of high-profile personalities, intense political rivalry, and the alleged presence of armed groups.

Aside from Cebu City, the cities of Mandaue, Lapu-Lapu, and Danao are also on the poll watchlist together with the towns of Ronda, San Fernando, and Tuburan in Cebu Province. Guihulngan City, Bais City, Siaton City, Ayungan City, Canlaon City, Mabinay, Manjuyod, Tayasan, Sta. Catalina and Zamboanguita in Negros Oriental. Buenavista, Clarin, Danao, Pilar, Tubigon, and Inabangga in Bohol and all the six towns of Siquijor Province—Siquijor, Lazi, Maria, Enrique Villanueva, Larena, and San Juan.

Garma said the city’s classification under EWAs will remain because of the private armed groups in the upland barangays. She, however, said the police are already after them.

Garma is calling on the public to continue helping the police by giving information. She stressed that the operation in Lusaran last week was a result of the public cooperation.

Garma said they received information through CCPO’s social media page, “Itug-An ni CD,” about the proliferation of loose firearms in Lusaran. She said they acted upon the information and applied for search warrant from the court.

“We launched a simultaneous service of search warrants on loose firearms last week in preparation for elections,” Garma said.

During the operations, a shootout ensued between the police operatives and barangay tanods Renato Goc-ong and Reynaldo Laguna resulting in their deaths. Renato’s wife Emma was also killed during the operation.

Garma asked those who have unregistered guns to surrender them to the police.

City support

Councilor David Tumulak, chairman of the City Council committee on peace and order, said he has not received reports about the presence of armed groups in the mountain barangays. He requested the police to validate the information.

“We have trust and confidence sa atong PNP (Philippine National Police). If found positive, the city government will support whatever ang kinahanglan sa atong kapolisan,” he told The FREEMAN.

Tumulak said he could not recall an instance in the past elections of the presence of armed men. He said the city has always been peaceful during elections in the past years.

He assured the city police that he will lobby for whatever assistance the police need to ensure the peaceful conduct of elections.

Mandaue killings

Meanwhile, Mandaue City Police Office director Senior Supt. Julian Entoma said the series of killings in the past weeks have nothing to do with politics. He said these were mostly related to the ongoing war against illegal drugs.

Entoma said this is the reason why Mandaue City has been downgraded from orange to yellow category in the EWAs list.

“With regards to politics yellow ra mi kay intense political rivalry ra mi wala mi nakita nga private armed group na pwede magamit sa mga pulitiko. Ang problema is more on drugs and not in politika,” Entoma said.

(We are only classified yellow because we only have intense political rivalry. We do not see any private armed group that could be used by politicians. The problem is more on drugs and not politics. (FREEMAN)


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