Gensan cops keep watch vs. rise of armed groups ahead of polls

Gensan cops keep watch vs. rise of armed groups ahead of polls

GENERAL SANTOS CITY – Police authorities are closely monitoring the possible emergence of new private armed groups (PAGs) here and the neighboring areas that could pose threat during the May 2022 local and national elections.

Col. Gilberto Tuzon, city police director, said Monday they have intensified their intelligence and security operations to counter any similar movement in the city’s 26 barangays and its boundaries.

He was referring to areas in nearby South Cotabato and Sarangani provinces that hosted known PAGs in the past years.

The city police, in collaboration with other law enforcement and security units, dismantled early this year a local armed band known as the Mudia group.

Four members of the PAG, all from the Mudia clan in the city, voluntarily surrendered along with their firearms to authorities here last March.

“As of now, we have not monitored any existing PAG in the city,” Tuzon told reporters.

He, however, said they have continued with their intelligence operations and the campaigns against the presence of loose firearms to counter any similar activity.

The conduct of the elections in the city had been relatively smooth, peaceful, and orderly, and the area was not included among the “hotspots” or areas of concern in Region 12 (Soccsksargen) in the previous polls.

In South Cotabato, police units have also sustained their operations against several criminal and lawless elements, among them the remnants of Islamic State-inspired local terrorist group dubbed Dawlah Islamiya-Socsargen Khatiba in nearby Polomolok town.

Another armed band, identified as the Tadoy group, is currently the subject of intelligence and law enforcement operations in the area.

Col. Nicomedes Olaivar, Sarangani police director, said they are also monitoring and verifying the presence of armed groups in the province’s seven municipalities.

In the 2019 local and national midterm elections, the Commission on Elections named Kiamba and Maitum towns in Sarangani as among the six potential areas of concern in Region 12. (PNA)

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