by Liza Agoot
The regional director of the Philippine National Police believes positive changes will happen in the political scene in Abra, as the midterm election draws near.
“The people of Abra are learning. They are intelligent people and we are positive that major changes will happen this election,” PRO-Cor Director Benjamin Magalong said in a recent press conference.
Magalong said the police can only do the groundwork but the people themselves are the ones who can solve the volatile peace and order situation in the province.
He encouraged the electorate not to vote for politicians who employ private armed groups (PAGs). Magalong said it is time for the residents to stop putting them in office so that the dream of all Abrenios to have a peaceful town can be attained.
“I personally believe that a minimal number of politicians will use their PAGs during the campaign because the people will be very vigilant and will prevent these politicians from doing what they normally do. Nagising na ang mga taga-Abra. Naniniwala ako na alam at ramdam na nila ang mga negative implication ng magulong lugar.”
Since January, the provincial police has recovered 64 firearms. Magalong said it was the residents who turned over or reported the presence of loose firearms, which the police used so they could secure search warrants. Compared to 2011 data, only 20 firearms were seized during the same period.
Magalong also reported settlement of cases is no longer an issue. “Wala nang ayusan ng kaso ngayon. Tumutulong na din ang mga mamamayan ng Abra para ma-solve ang mga kaso.”
Magalong said of the 16 shooting incidents that have occurred in the past months, 80 percent have been solved and are now in court.
He also reported that the number of killing incidents in the province has decreased as he hopes to “keep the peace” until and beyond the elections.
He also hinted about a pilot project in Abra, which is currently under assessment. “This is the first in the country and we hope it becomes successful in Abra, then we will do it in all provinces in the Cordillera and recommend it to the national office for adoption.”
Magalong added, the police continues to engage stakeholders for they see it as one of the solutions in achieving a hostility-free Abra.