48 private armed groups on PNP’s radar as 2023 Barangay, SK polls near
MANILA, Philippines — The Philippine National Police (PNP) said Monday that 48 private armed groups (PAGs) in various parts of the country are under its surveillance as the October 2023 Barangay and Sangguniang Kabataan Elections (BSKE) draw closer.
PNP Public Information Office (PIO) chief Col. Redrico Maranan said in a press conference that law enforcers are specifically monitoring three PAGs active or previously involved in criminal offenses and 42 potential PAGs.
“Itong mga private armed groups na ito ay ating binabantayan dahil ito ay isang malaking threat sa paparating sa Barangay, SK election natin,” Maranan explained.
(We are watching these private armed groups because they are a significant threat to our upcoming Barangay, SK election.)
According to the PNP official, the 48 active and potential PAGs are in Central Luzon, Bicol, Western Visayas, Caraga, Cordillera Administrative Region, and the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao.
He said the PNP considers that these groups might be used to cause harm or harass for political reasons and personal agendas.
He also said the PAGs were detected and monitored by regional and provincial police offices, which then submit the data to the PNP headquarters for strategy-making.
Maranan said PNP chief Gen. Benjamin Acorda Jr. has already ordered regional directors and national operating units to strengthen the campaign against PAGs.
Aside from monitoring these groups, Maranan said the PNP is considering the implementation of intelligence-driven law enforcement operations or search warrant operations to confiscate illegal firearms belonging to PAGs and check if their members have any pending warrants of arrest.
Focus on crime control
In a speech during Monday’s flag ceremony at the PNP headquarters in Camp Crame, Quezon City, Acorda touted the force’s accomplishments since January, including efforts against illegal firearms.
He said that from January 1, police operations resulted in the recovery, surrender, and confiscation of 10,971 firearms and the arrest of 3,425 people. He added that various PNP units also received 6,221 firearms for safekeeping since the first month of the year.
He also said that to complement the PNP’s gun control measure as preventive action against crime, the force likewise arrested 27,948 wanted individuals and “accepted the surrender of 153 other wanted persons over the same 4-month period.”
Further, Acorda disclosed that during the same duration, “the PNP neutralized 187 criminal gangs with the arrest of 854 and surrender of 86 gang members and the confiscation of 126 firearms” from the gangs.
On the PNP’s campaign against illegal drugs, the PNP chief said that from January 1 to May 19, a total of 23,395 drug suspects were apprehended during 17,668 police anti-drug operations, which also led to the confiscation of “ a sizeable quantity of illegal drugs” with an estimated value of P5.76 billion.
Acorda declared that they are “focusing more on the preventive aspect of crime control” following the May 2 approval of the 2023 National Crime Prevention Program by President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. via Memorandum Circular No. 19.
Acorda said the PNP intends to eliminate “instruments of crime and violence,” get rid of “criminal elements which set into motion the criminal motive,” and strengthen “soft targets” and institutionalize strong police presence in order “to further deny opportunities for crime to be committed.”