• GILBERT P. BAYORAN
Three potential private armed groups are being closely monitored in Negros Occidental by the Philippine National Police, in line with the synchronized barangay and Sangguniang Kabataan elections scheduled on October 30.
PBrig. Gen. Sidney Villaflor, acting regional police director of Western Visayas, however downplayed the reports, stressing that it was based on old reports, which they are now validating.
In a security briefing during the 2nd quarter Regional Peace and Order Council meeting, which was presided by Negros Occidental Gov. Eugenio Jose Lacson, P/Col. Gilbert Gorero, chief of the Regional Operational Plans Division of Western Visayas police, disclosed that as of this time, there is no active private armed group existing in Western Visayas.
Gorero however said that the three potential PAGS in Negros Occidental could be used by politicians for their vested interests during the barangay and SK elections.
There is nothing to worry since the PNP is monitoring them closely, he added.
In previous elections, one of the three potential private armed groups, allegedly headed by a former rebel leader, has been linked to murder incidents in northern Negros.
Asked on the existence of three potential private armed groups in Negros Occidental, Gov. Lacson said “what is important they have identified and are monitoring them.”
Lacson said the PNP is just “extra careful” in Negros Occidental so that the incident in Negros Oriental will not happen again, apparently referring to the assassination of Gov. Roel Degamo in March this year.
Villaflor also clarified that the 37 election watchlist areas (EWAS) in Western Visayas, mentioned in the 2nd quarter Regional Peace and Order Council meeting in Bacolod City, was also based on old records from previous elections.
Of the number, 17 are in Negros Occidental.
As to the EWAS, Villaflor said “we are still waiting for updated policy from Comelec (Commission on Elections), so that we can have detailed plans, in order for us to adopt with policy provided to us by the Comelec.”
Based on results on threat evaluations conducted on elected government officials in Western Visayas, the Police Regional Office 6 has logged 26 elected government officials (EGOs), who are allegedly under threat, with 16 in Negros Occidental, and two in Bacolod City.
Of the 26, eighteen are considered as high-risk, while eight are medium-risk.
Those were culled from our old records, which we are evaluating, if those are still the same as of this time, Villaflor stressed.*