THE Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) is monitoring the presence of private armed groups (PAG) in Leyte and other towns after the army classified them as armed goons.
Colonel Rafael Valencia, Commander of the 802nd Infantry Brigade, said members of the armed-groups, which are seen in the third district of Leyte and towns of San Miguel, Hilongos and Babatngon, are not from Leyte, but from other areas like Cebu, Masbate, and Samar.
Valencia said the armed-groups were allegedly hired by some politicians who are running this coming election, but he said they “still need to verify this because both sides are reporting.”
During the peace and order council meeting in Leyte, Valencia said that the presence of the PAGs could affect the conduct of May 13 elections reason why they are conducting monitoring to include security operations in the identified areas.
Aside from armed-groups, Valencia said that they are also monitoring movements of rebel members who have influences in the some towns of the province.
Concerned areas of the Army are the Jaro-Carigara-Ormoc Complex and the Burauen-Albuera-Baybay Complex, which are still under influence or monitored with presence of communist groups.
According to Valencia, they are conducting mobile checkpoints in coordination with the local Commission on Elections (Comelec) to minimize election-related incidents.
Although the Army had already reported the presence of armed-groups in the province, Comelec regional supervisor Richard Japzon said that no area in the province is placed under Comelec control.
Areas placed under the Comelec control means that the Comelec has supervision and control over police and army personnel and no troop movements could be made without the poll body’s knowledge.
The third and fourth districts of Leyte are considered as hot spot areas by the Comelec, but the election officer said there were no recommendation to place them under Comelec control as the situation in those areas are considered manageable. (Leyte Samar Daily Express)