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Before BSKE, the search against private armies intensified.

Before the upcoming Oct. 30 Barangay and Sangguniang Kabataan Elections (BSKE) in 2023, Philippine National Police (PNP) chief Gen. Benjamin Acorda Jr. has directed all police offices and units countrywide to step up operations against 48 PAGs and loose guns.

According to a statement released by Acorda on Monday, three active PAGs and 45 potential PAGs that might mobilize for the next elections are being regularly monitored by the PNP.

The PNP stated that it concentrates more on Muslim Mindanao’s Regions 3 (Central Luzon), 5, 6, and 13 (Caraga), and the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Bicol.

Acorda stated that operations to remove the tools of crime and violence, notably firearms, are a part of the early interventions.

“As directed by the President, we are concentrating more on the preventative component of crime control. According to Acorda, this is accomplished by eliminating the tools of crime and violence while also taking into account the criminal components who initiated the criminal motive.

Brig. Gen. Redrico Maranan, head of the PNP Public Information Office, claimed that according to their records, PAGs are implicated in cases of harassment and murder.

“Yung PAGs natin meron tayong binabantayan sa Region 3. Meron din mga potential PAGs ganun din sa BARMM, ‘yung Regions 3, 5, 6, 13 at Cordillera, meron din mga potential PAGs (We have something to monitor in Region 3, our PAGs. Basically, the government of the Philippines is binabantayan natin ‘yung existence nitong mga PAGs na ito. In general, we monitor the existence of these PAGs throughout the entire country of the Philippines, but we have focus regions in Regions 3, 5, 6, 13 and Cordillera that may contain PAGs, and there may possibly be PAGs in BARMM, Maranan said in a chance interview with reporters on Monday.

According to PNP data, since January of this year, the police have accounted for 10,971 loose handguns while receiving 6,221 additional firearms for safety in various police units across the nation, primarily because of expired permits.

According to the same data, 27,948 wanted individuals were either apprehended or turned in to the police.

Since January of this year, the PNP has dismantled 187 criminal gangs with the arrest of 854 people, the surrender of 86 gang members, the seizure of 126 firearms, and operations against wanted people and firearms on the loose.

The 90-day election cycle for the 2023 Barangay and Sangguniang Kabataan Election will begin on August 28 with the filing of Certificates of Candidacy by Commission on Elections (Comelec) Resolution No. 10902.

During the entire election period, according to the Omnibus Election Code and Comelec regulations, Acorda stated that the PNP will vigorously enforce any illegal acts.

Candidate use of security guards or bodyguards is also prohibited during this time, he added. “These prohibited acts include the bearing, carrying, or transporting of firearms or other deadly weapons in public places, including any building, street, park, private vehicle, or public conveyance, unless authorized in writing by the Comelec.

The 2023 BSKE’s COC filing window will run from August 28 to September 2.

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