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No PAGs in the region just plain gangs of criminals, says police official

PALO, Leyte- For Senior Supt. Leonardo Suan, the deputy regional director for operations of the Philippine National Police (PNP), private armed groups(PAGs) are non-existence in the region.
Any armed groups suspected to be operating in the region are just ordinary armed criminals, he said.
Suan said that for a group of armed men to be considered as members of a private armed group, there should be a clear evidence who are behind them.
“There is no such thing as private armed groups in the region. What we have are just ordinary criminals,” the police official stressed.
“We have been mentioning PAGs. (But) we should refrain from mentioning them especially so that we haven’t identified who are maintaining these groups or who are financing them. We just treat these persons as ordinary criminals,”Suan added.
The presence of these so-called PAGs have been tagged as reason for the series of killing incidents, particularly in Samar province.
Reports have indicated that these PAGs are being maintained and financed by certain politicians.
Former PNP Director General Ronaldo ‘Bato’ de la Rosa and several former regional police directors have acknowledged the presence of PAGs in the region, notably in the several areas in Samar.
They have vowed to dismantle these PAGs which were also identified as one of the factors why certain localities have been tagged as concerned areas during elections.
Suan said that while PAGs have been mentioned before, there is still no ‘link’ that they have been existing because they are being supported by certain politicians.
“To date, we cannot say that there is an existing PAGs because we don’t know who are maintaining them. We don’t have witnesses. We don’t have solid evidences that would link that these groups are maintained by somebody. So the treatment of the PNP with them is that they are crime groups,” he stressed.
“But whatever groups they are, we will still hunt and crush them,” Suan added.
(LIZBETH ANN A. ABELLA)

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