NEGROS Occidental Governor Eugenio Jose Lacson welcomed on Friday, June 2, 2023, the confirmation from the Philippine National Police (PNP) that no private armed groups are existing in the province.

“I really asked because it is the concern of the President (Ferdinand R. Marcos Jr.) to make sure that there are no private armies especially that the barangay and Sangguniang Kabataan elections is coming. The report was, there is none identified in Negros Occidental,” he told reporters.

Lieutenant Colonel James Latayon, chief of the Provincial Operations Management Unit of the Negros Occidental Police Provincial Office, confirmed to the governor that they have not monitored any private army, during the joint second quarter meeting of the Provincial Peace and Order Council and the Provincial Anti-Drug Abuse Council held at the Capitol Social Hall here.

In March this year, the PNP national headquarters said it will work with the Armed Forces of the Philippines to identify, track down and dismantle all private armed groups in the country.

The consolidation of police and military forces complied with the order of Marcos, following the series of high-profile attacks on local chief executives, one of which was the assassination of Negros Oriental Governor Roel Degamo three months ago.

Meanwhile, Latayon reported that Negros Occidental is “generally peaceful,” adding that there has been a downtrend in crime incidents during the first five months of the year.

He said this can be attributed to the intensified police visibility and checkpoint operations and conduct of various law enforcement operations against illegal firearms, illegal drugs, illegal gambling and wanted personalities. (PNA)