IN the Philippines, there’s that urgent need to set up local councils to neutralize private armed groups (PAGs) and gun-for-hire syndicates.
Powerful and moneyed but unscrupulous political warlords, particularly those in the countryside, maintain PAGs or “private armies” to ensure their victory during an election, which is democracy in action.
They use members of these heavily-armed groups to threaten, terrorize or even harm their political rivals and supporters, drawing the ire of the Filipino people and government officials and employees.
To encourage the citizens to provide information on these groups, Ilocos Norte Gov. Imee R. Marcos wants the proposed local councils to put more premium in the giving of incentives to tipsters.
“Nagbabayad talaga kami ng P20,000 to P40,000 cash (at) no questions asked. Yung mga religious and barangay group, mga NGO sila talaga ang nagsusumbong,” said the lady governor.
Marcos, who is running for senator in next year’s May 13 polls, aired the proposal during the Christmas party celebration of Butil Farmers’ party list, headed by Rep. Cecilia Leonila Chavez, in Palayan City.
The governor said her anti-PAGs formula has worked wonders in maintaining the peace and order situation in her home province, which she described as a former “Wild, Wild West Country.”
Another formula, she said, is the Philippine National Police’s aggressive stance against the proliferation of loose firearms through the implementation of the nationwide “Oplan Katok” program.
And as the nation prepares to go to the polls anew, the government’s attention should be directed to dismantling these “private armies” and gun-for-hire syndicates in various parts of the country.
It’s one way of ensuring the holding of free, honest, peaceful and credible elections next year.