Cagas calls for dismantling of private armies in Davao del SurBy Germelina Lacorte
DAVAO CITY, Philippines—Placing Davao del Sur under the control of the Commission on Elections for the entire election period next year would be useless unless the military or the police dismantled politicians’ private armies, the province’s governor said here Thursday.
Declaring the province an election “hot spot” was an understatement, Governor Douglas Cagas told reporters here on the sidelines of a Regional Peace and Order Council meeting here, as “It is in fact, a boiling spot because of the presence of these politically backed private armies.”
Cagas, who now seeks to be elected mayor of the provincial capital, Digos City, said the Commission on Elections can place Davao del Sur under its control but that would be useless unless the military and the police took the armed groups seriously.
However, Cagas declined to identify politicians with private armies, saying it was up to the police to do so.
The Cagas clan is locked in a bitter political rivalry with the Bautista clan.
Cagas’s son, 1st district Rep. Marc Douglas IV is pitted against former Davao del Sur 2nd district Rep. Claude Bautista in the gubernatorial race.
Cagas himself faces a Bautista supporter, re-electionist Digos City Mayor Joseph Peñas, while his wife, Mercedes, faces another Bautista ally, Vice Gov. Arsenio Latasa in the congressional race for the first district.
Cagas said to prevent election-related violence from erupting, the police should concentrate its force in the province.
“I asked the PNP regional director to focus forces in Davao del Sur, not tomorrow, not in the next few months, but today and until the elections are over,” Cagas said.
“If you can bring in 75 percent of the whole police force in the region, [so much] the better because the critical area is Davao del Sur, not anywhere else in the region,” he added.
The Comelec regional said earlier that of the four Southern Mindanao provinces, Davao del Sur was the lone potential hotspot because of intense rivalry between politicians.
Comelec assistant regional director Marlon Casquejo said election officials were gathering data in support of a recommendation that the province be placed under Comelec control.
Meanwhile, in Maguindanao, a partymate of President Aquino’s who is running for mayor of Datu Hoffer town survived an ambush on Wednesday.
Senior Supt. Jaime Pido, Maguindanao police chief, said an investigation was underway to determine who attacked Yamashita Mangacop and why.
Mangacop, 49, suffered two bullet wounds in the arm when the vehicle he was driving was fired on as he was passed by Barangay Salimbao in the town of Sultan Kudarat.
(With a report from Edwin Fernandez, Inquirer Mindanao)