Provincial police chief says no private armed groups in NegOr

No private armed groups (PAGs) have been monitored so far in Negros Oriental as the Philippine National Police (PNP) in the province is gearing up for the start of the election period from January 9 to June 8, this year.

Provincial police director, Col. Germano Mallari, told the Philippine News Agency in an interview on Thursday that while they have received information on the purported presence of armed men allegedly associated with political candidates, there is no confirmed organized PAG in the province.

“We are looking into reports of these supposed armed individuals but these have to be validated yet, but rest assured we will be monitoring suspicious personalities as the election period is about to begin,” Mallari said in mixed English and Cebuano.

Joint PNP and Commission on Elections (Comelec) checkpoints will be set up in strategic locations on Sunday, January 9, which is also the start of the gun ban in relation to the May 9 national and local elections, he said.

The PNP and the Armed Forces of the Philippines are deputized by the Comelec to enforce laws, rules, regulations, and other guidelines related to the elections, he added.

Mallari said legitimate gun holders are reminded that they cannot carry their firearms outside of their homes unless they have secured an exemption from the Comelec, on top of their licenses and permit-to-carry.

“If they fail to present a Comelec exemption during checkpoint inspection or at any other instance, even if they have the other necessary documents, they will still be charged for violation of the gun ban,” he said.

Meanwhile, during a recent visit here, Police Regional Office 7 (PRO-7) regional director Brig. Gen. Roque Eduardo Vega said it is still early to determine the so-called election hotspots in Central Visayas, including Negros Oriental.

Vega said the identification of these “hotspots” will be based on recommendations from the PNP and the AFP considering certain parameters and in accordance with Comelec guidelines.

The Regional Joint Security Control Center (RJSCC) has convened in Cebu City to tackle election-related matters, including the identification of election hotspots, he said.

These election hotspots are to be listed in four categories – green, yellow, orange, and red – although the towns and cities that will fall under each classification will be determined in the coming weeks and months leading up to the May 9 polls, he added.

Source: Philippines News Agency

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