MANILA, Philippines—The Philippine National Police is looking into over 50 private armed groups (PAGS) operating nationwide as part of its preparations for the upcoming midterm elections next year, its spokesman said Monday.
Speaking to reporters, Chief Superintendent Generoso Cerbo Jr. said that although the exact number of PAGS is yet to be determined, the PNP’s Directorate for Intelligence gave him a working number of 60, with nine allegedly based in the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao.
Cerbo, clarified, however, that the DI is yet to review these groups, if they are, indeed private armies, whom he described as a group of two or more people carrying firearms which is being maintained by an individual, or an assembly, to guard his own interests.
“No private armed groups would be spared, whether they are related to any organization, any party, or any individual,” Deputy Director General Alan Purisima, head of Task Force Safe (Secured and Fair Elections) earlier said.
The task force, previously called Hope (Honest, Peaceful and Orderly Elections), was established to secure the 2013 polls.
Purisima said Task Force Safe will go after private armies that cannot be neutralized by local authorities.