Philippine Daily Inquirer
BAGUIO CITY—The police have reduced the number of private armed groups in Abra from 86 to 31 this year, the Cordillera police director said.
Chief Supt. Benjamin Magalong said negotiations brokered by Abra citizens’ groups and crackdowns on unlicensed firearms helped break down many of these armed groups, whose members offer themselves as bodyguards to political clans during elections.
This was established in 2005 by a government fact-finding team that looked into the involvement of moonlighting policemen and soldiers.
Abra, notorious for its political violence, was again listed among 16 areas of concern for the 2013 midterm elections by the Philippine National Police.
The province has been under Commission on Elections control since 1998 and has always been listed as an election hot spot, Magalong said.
He said the police are monitoring political activities in the towns of Lagayan, Tineg, Bangued, Baay-Licuan, Malibcong, Bucloc and Langiden.
“We are confident that private armed groups will soon be gone. They are starting to feel the pressure,” he said.
On Nov. 11, police arrested Prudencio Britanico, who is suspected to be the leader of a private armed group, Magalong said.
Between November 2011 and November this year, police said they have seized 134 unlicensed guns in the province.
Magalong said political leaders have also been cooperating with police officials.
Since October, the police have been meeting with political clans to discuss a peace initiative designed and approved by leaders of the Abra community, church groups and the academe. Desiree Caluza, Inquirer Northern Luzon