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Wednesday, April 17, 2024

PNP keeps tight watch on 48 PAGs in prep for 2023 barangay, SK polls

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The Philippine National Police (PNP) said on Monday that it was monitoring at least 48 active and potential private armed groups (PAGs) as it intensified its security preparation for the holding of the Barangay and Sangguniang Kabataan Elections this year.

PNP Public Information Office chief Col. Redrico Maranan said during a news briefing that the PAGs are scattered across the country, raising the possibility that they could affect the elections unless these are dismantled.

Some of the groups are operating or are located in Cordillera Administrative Region, Central Luzon, Bicol Region, Western Visayas and Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao.

Maranan said PNP chief Gen. Benjamin Acorda Jr. has ordered regional and provincial police directors to strictly monitor and operate against the PAGs in order to ensure that they will not threaten the holding of the elections.

“We are closely watching these private armed groups because they are a big threat to our upcoming Barangay and SK elections,” he said.

Maranan said that Acorda also ordered the PNP to confiscate the firearms of the PAGs by intensifying search warrant operations against their members.

Visayas Command (Viscom) said it is ready to perform the crucial task to ensure a peaceful election in the Visayas region, as it continues its preparation for the upcoming Barangay and SK Elections 2023.

The military has also intensified its preparations for the elections by meeting with Commission on Elections officials in the regional and provincial levels such as in the Visayas.

Armed Forces Visayas Command commander Lt. Gen. Benedict Arevalo said they have also been working with the PNP to validate election watchlist areas in the region, which will become the basis of Viscom’s deployment during the elections.

Arevalo said a total of 158 areas in the Visayas are included in the Election Watchlist Areas (EWAs). Of this number, 37 are in Region 6, 63 in Region 7 and 58 are in Region 8.

The regional military commander said that of the 158 areas, 40 are classified as Areas of Concern, 92 as Areas of Immediate Concern and 26 are Areas of Grave Concern.

Areas of Concern are areas where there are intense political rivalry and election-related incidents. Areas of Immediate Concern are areas where there are presence of the New People’s Army and other threat groups, and Areas of Grave Concern are areas that exhibit the combined factors of the first two classifications. -30-

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