From the Sun Star-Bacolod (Feb 8, 2019): ‘Negros politicians using NPAs as private armed groups’
THERE are politicians in Negros Occidental who use members of the New People's Army (NPA) as their private armed groups (Pags).
This was confirmed on Thursday, February 7, by Col. Benedict Arevalo, commanding officer of the 303rd Infantry Brigade of the Philippine Army based in Murcia.
As far as the army is concerned, the number one Pags is still the NPA with their considerable numbers.
“So I’m looking at that and we are reminding the incumbent officials and those aspiring officials to refrain from asking support from the NPAs because we know that this is illegal and there is a memorandum by the DILG (Department of the Interior and Local Government) dissuading candidates from seeking support from the NPA,” Arevalo pointed out.
He said that NPAs are being used to intimidate voters during elections and the politicians’ opponent in certain areas would be weakened with those private armed groups.
Arevalo said there are more than one politician in the province who use NPAs as private armed groups based on the information they received, however, he refused to name the place and the politicians.
“We have information that we need to confirm. It can already be around Negros. We will talk to some personalities because we don’t want to judge them. Sometimes it would really take an effort and technicalities. They would always deny that but the burden of proof lies in us and it would be a challenge for the police and military,” Arevalo said.
He also assured the public that the army will make sure of the peaceful and honest conduct of the May 13 elections especially in the hinterland areas by preempting some modus such as “manicuristas” where a politician would put a black color liquid that looks like an indelible ink to make it appear that the voters have already cast their votes.