MANILA, Philippines ? Authorities are verifying the existence of over 100 private armies in the country, as they vowed anew to eradicate all partisan armed groups before the national elections in May.
Philippine National Police (PNP) Director General Jesus Verzosa told a news conference on Thursday that authorities are intensifying intelligence operations to verify the reported existence or formation of a total of 102 private armies across the country.
?But this is for validation still,? Verzosa said.
The number does not include the 68 private armed groups, which have been earlier verified by the police. Of the 68, 25 are in the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM).
Verzosa earlier said that private armed groups could be formed with two or more members. He noted that some private armed groups were formed as campaign period starts.
Commission on Elections chairman Jose Melo said that they would propose a law that would disqualify any candidate linked to or reportedly employing private armed groups.
?Right now under the law?they have to be charged and convicted. But we will recommend the passage of a law that could be a ground for the disqualification of politicians,? Melo said in a news conference.
On Thursday, the PNP, the Armed Forces of the Philippines and the Comelec signed the joint letter directive for operational guidelines for 2010 national and local elections at Camp Crame, Quezon City.
Melo reiterated that the upcoming national elections would be a test to the country?s democracy.
?Kapag nagkaroon na naman ng duda ang ating mga mamamayan sa resulta ng eleksyon ay baka mahihirapan na tayong maka-recover (If the people will have doubts anew on the credibility of the results of the election, then we might find it hard to recover),? he said.