PALO, Leyte- PNP Chief Director General Ronald de la Rosa issued a stern warning to the police provincial director of Samar to dismantle immediately the private armed groups(PAGs) operating in the province.
The warning was made by de la Rosa during a press conference with the presence of police regional officials to include S/Supt. Elmer Pelobello.
de la Rosa, who attended the 115th police service anniversary of the PNP-8 on Tuesday (Sept.13), met some family members of those killed alledegely by members of a private armed group in Calbayog City.
“Dismantle them all, I don’t care whether they belong to the Tans or to the Sarmientos. My order is for you to dismantle them,” the police chief said.
“Gibain at ubusin mo lahat yan.Kung hindi ere-relieve kita. Kailangan natin ma maintain ang mataas na respeto nang tao sa police ngayon.Kailangan mawala na ang PAGs na yan sa Samar,” de la Rosa added.
de la Rosa was referring to the family of Samar Governor Sharee Ann Tan and former congressman and Interior Secretary Mel Senen Sarmiento.
Gov. Tan and Sarmiento, brother of incumbent Rep.Edgar Sarmiento, had earlier denied that they maintain their own private armed groups.
Both officials had called on the police hierarchy to break the presence of PAGs in the province, particularly in the first district of the province like in Calbayog and Santa Margarita.
The presence of PAGs in the province has been tagged as reason for the spate of killings mostly involving political supporters of warring politicians in the province.
The presence of PAGS in Calbayog came about again after six barangay officials were killed by PAGs.
Calbayog City Mayor Ronald Aquino personally asked the head of the country’s police force for assistance which include deployment of additional police personnel.
But Chief Supt. Elmer Beltejar, police regional director, said that there is already enough police presence in the area coupled with the augmentation by soldiers belonging to the 803d Infantry Brigade.
He also assured the family members of those who were killed by PAGs that the police are doing its best to track down those responsible.
Meantime, Col. Mario Lacurom, commanding officer of the 803rd IB, told Leyte Samar Daily Express in an interview that they were mandated by their central command to address the series of killing incidents in Calbayog which he described as “alarming.”
Lacurom said that Army troops have already been deployed to different areas in the 1st district of Samar with the mission to maintain peace and order in the area and to disarm, arrest all lawless elements such as the private armed groups in Samar.