PRESS Secretary Cerge Remonde said the latest election-related killings in North Cotabato and Zambonga del Sur stresses the urgency of the immediate dismantling of private armed groups prior to the May 10 elections.

“This has indeed given more impetus to the President's directive to ensure the disbandment of private armies before the May elections and we are very happy that the (Zenarosa) Commission is already in place and have started in their work and happier with the pronouncement of the Commission that no one will deter them, they will not allow anyone to deter them from achieving such objectives,” he said.

The statement was made after unidentified men shot dead Bommex Sula, a candidate for municipal councilor of the Lakas-Kampi-CMD in Banisilan, North Cotabato last Wednesday.

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Sula’s death followed the killing of one Rascal Afdal, who is said to be the staff and relative of Labangan, Zamboanga del Sur, Mayor Abubakar Afdal last Tuesday.

Mayor Afdal, who is no longer running in the elections, believes it the incident is politically motivated since he has relatives eyeing seats in the coming polls including his nephew and Vice Mayor Wilson Nandang who is running for mayor.

Remonde meanwhile said they were not surprised over reports that there are about 68 partisan armed groups operating in the country, which he said was first reported by the police and military to the President and the National Security Council (NSC) Cabinet cluster.

“This is not new information in so far as we are concerned. We have been aware of this already. In the previous meeting of the NSC, and precisely these reports na nag uudyok sa ating Pangulo to seriously address this issue," he said.

He added that the Zenarosa Commission was specifically created to hasten the dismantling of private armies and was among the recommendations of the military and police which stressed the need for an "institutionalized and multi-sectoral body" to assist them in the campaign.

The Commission, created through Administrative Order 275, is headed by former Court of Appeals justice Monina Arevalo-Zenarosa and comprised of commissioners mediaman Herman Basbano, retired Brigadier General Jaime Echevarria; retired police Deputy Director Virtus Gil; Dante Jimenez of the Volunteers Against Crime and Corruption, Mahmod Mala Adilao who represents the Bishop Ulama Conference, and Butuan Bishop Juan de Dios Pueblos. (JMR/Sunnex)