EDITORIAL - Taking down private armed groups

The Freeman
EDITORIAL - Taking down private armed groups

Taking over from Police Brigadier General Gerry Bearis, the new chief of the Police Regional Office-7, Police Brigadier General Anthony Aberin, said getting rid of private armed groups will be one of his top priorities.

“We will carry out intelligence-driven operations against illegal drugs, wanted persons, illegal gambling, most especially e-sabong, and loose firearms, and we will dismantle organized crime groups and private armed groups so that senseless killings will be put to a stop,” Aberin was quoted as saying during his speech.

While this is easy to declare, we hope Aberin is up to the task. Getting rid of private armed groups is easier said than done.

Directly going after them and disbanding them does work, but that may just be a short-term solution; the roots behind the presence of private armed groups go deep.

For one it has to do with the absence of policemen in some areas. As long as there are politicians or powerful families who feel that they lack a strong enough police force to enforce some semblance of order, they will likely resort to their own “police force”.

Another reason is intense political rivalry. Feuds between politicians or powerful families lead to the presence of private armed groups. When one side feels they are in danger from another they will build up their own security, which usually also forces the other side to do the same.

Our gun culture is another reason why people with guns are easy to find and recruit. Many people equate having weapons as not just a guarantee of safety but also as a sign of social standing, prestige, and most of all power. Put such men in a group and you have a whole that is more than just the sum of its parts.

Aberin cannot also dismiss the fact that some policemen may also be part of private armed groups. No matter how much the PNP pays policemen there will always be a more lucrative offer from somebody else. It may not even be a matter of money, but loyalty, family ties, and even indebtedness.

However, let’s give Aberin the chance to take down private armed groups. He might come up with ideas those before him haven’t.

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