By Maria Elena Catajan
LA TRINIDAD, Benguet — Newly installed Abra police director Senior Superintendent Virgilio Laya is focusing on loose firearms, neutralizing gun-for-hire groups and dismantling Private armies.
In a phone interview, Laya said direct orders from Cordillera regional police chief Isagani Nerez posed a challenge to Laya. “I dare you to account more loose firearms, neutralize the Gun-for-Hire groups and individuals including those personalities involved in illegal drugs,” the regional director reportedly said.
Laya took the reins from Senior Superintendent Benjamin Lusad who relinquished his post in formal turnover rites May 21.
Lusad led the Abra command for almost two years while Laya managed the region’s Community Relation Division for more than three years.
Lusad, in his parting message was very much honored and thankful for the overwhelming appreciation, gratitude and support displayed by the local chief executives. He also recognized the untiring support of the PNP Abra Team for bringing back the honor and respect of the people towards the PNP.
Laya said tried and tested strategies will be used in the accounting of loose firearms including Oplan Bakal and Katok which enjoins individuals who have firearms to register their pieces.
Laya added there is a lone private army, which is targeted to be neutralized through peaceful dialog.
“We will be talking with the suspected private army group and convince them to surrender and clear their names,” he shared.
One of the cases hurled into the limelight in Abra is the ongoing investigation of the LIgiw family.
The death of Licuben Ligiw, and his sons, Freddie “Fermin” and Edie has enraged private groups and human rights activists.
The Ligiws were reported missing by their family on March 6, and were found after a search on March 7, the trio were buried in a shallow grave near their hut at Baay-Licuan, Abra, the family are members of the Binongan tribe.
Laya said a final statement from a witness is awaited by the police to finish the investigation.