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Mayor Wagas slams "private army" tag

CEBU, Philippines - Compostela mayor Ritchie Wagas cried foul over the Municipal Council’s labelling as “private army” his newly created Local Executive Assistance Group (LEAG), clarifying it is only intended to augment the authorities in the implementation of peace and order.

The Municipal Council has earlier passed a resolution asking the Department of Interior and Local Government to abolish the LEAG on suspicion it is a private army.

According to vice mayor Joel Quiño, LEAG is “unnecessary since competent local police and barangay tanods are there to handle peace and order to enforce the law.”

In his three-page letter addressed to the vice mayor, Wagas said he finds it “very abnormal and discourteous” having learned it from the news branding his newly created group as private army.

“They have been created through an Executive Order by my office. They are not outlaws. They are not private armies. They have no guns and ammunitions but they have arnis and martial skills for self-defense. They are the service arm of the mayor for 24-hours a day,” Wagas said.

The letter of Wagas was copy furnished to Governor Gwendolyn Garcia, the Office of the Ombudsman and the DILG-Regional Office.

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The mayor explained that the newly created group are volunteers to work everyday without receiving salaries from the government.

The LEAG is composed of about 70 arnis-trained civilian volunteers who are tasked to patrol the coastal barangays and support the police in crime prevention from 6 p.m. to 6 a.m. eevery day.

“That is why it is preposterous and unfortunate to hear unfounded stories from an elected official whose obvious motive is to undermine our administration thereby destroying the good image of our municipality for political ends and satisfy the selfish interests of his political patron,” Wagas said.

He added that he has worked so hard for their town to be uplifted from 4th class to 3rd class municipality, making them number one in the entire province in terms of real property tax collection posting a 193 percent performance rating. — Garry B. Lao/WAB   (THE FREEMAN)

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