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Arming civilian volunteers only for NPA-infested areas — DILG

Romina Cabrera - The Philippine Star
Arming civilian volunteers only for NPA-infested areas â DILG
Undated file photo shows San Juan Mayor Francis Zamora checking out unlicensed firearms surrendered to the city police.
The STAR / Boy Santos, file

MANILA, Philippines — Arming civilian force multipliers as espoused by President Duterte only applies to volunteer groups in communities under the influence of the New People’s Army (NPA), the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) said yesterday.

Interior Secretary Eduardo Año said there is a “necessity” to arm civilians, particularly barangay officers, in areas under the influence of the NPA or even those that have been cleared of rebels but may still need to defend their villages.

“The President has clarified what he meant when he said he is in favor of arming civilians. During our meeting he made the clarification. He said he was referring to the areas under the influence of the CPP (Communist Party of the Philippines-NPA,” he said at a virtual briefing.

Año said these isolated barangays are located mostly in ancestral domain areas that are being exploited and victimized by the NPA.

He said that arming civilian volunteers will help capacitate the move to defend these barangays in coordination with local military troops or local police.

The secretary added that arming of civilians will still be subject to existing laws, and any interested individual must get the necessary ownership permits and licenses.

Private armed groups

In a separate engagement in Zamboanga City, Año warned that private armed groups (PAGs) are anticipated to be active in time for next year’s elections.

Speaking at the Western Mindanao Command (Westmincom) headquarters, the DILG chief enlisted the commitment of local chief executives to support the elimination of private armies by closely coordinating with the police and military under the National Task Force to Disband PAGs (NTFDPAGs).

“PAGs operations are likely to spread since candidates have been tapping these groups against their political enemies to advance their political interest and in turn this fuels election-related violence which may even create bigger problems to press communities, affecting more of our fellowmen,” Año said. – Roel Pareño, Cecille Suerte Felipe

DILG NPA
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