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MANILA – Philippine National Police (PNP) chief, Gen. Guillermo Eleazar on Saturday ordered a crackdown against private armed groups (PAGs), less than a month ahead of the start of the filing of candidacy for next year's elections.

Habang palapit na ang filing ng certificate of candidacy para sa Halalan 2022, inatasan ko na ang aming mga commanders na lalong paigtingin ang mga operasyon laban sa mga private armed groups na maariing gamitin upang manakot at maghasik ng karahasan lalo na sa mga lalawigan at mga kanayunan (As the filing of the certificate of candidacy for the 2022 polls approaches, I have instructed our commanders to further intensify operations against private armed groups that can be used to intimidate and creates violence especially in the provinces and countryside), ” Eleazar said in a statement.

He said the local police should intensify their intelligence gathering measures to combat these groups in order to prevent them from committing election-related violence.

He also assured the public that the PNP will exert all efforts to prevent these groups from committing atrocities that might taint the credibility of the polls.

Hindi papayagan ng inyong PNP na manaig ang pananakot, pandaraya at karahasan sa darating na halalan dahil mahalagang mapangalagaan hindi lamang ang kalayaan ng ating mga kababayan na malayang pumili ng kanilang mga lider kundi pati na rin ang kapakanan ng ating bansa (The PNP will not allow intimidation, fraud and violence to prevail in the coming elections because it is important to secure not only the freedom of our countrymen to freely choose their leaders but also the welfare of our country),” he said.

Based on the latest PNP data, a total of 65 members of private armed groups have been so far neutralized, wherein eight were arrested, one was killed and 56 others have surrendered to authorities.

From January to August this year, authorities have recovered a total of 73 firearms in 13 operations conducted against these groups.

The filing of certificates of candidacy (COCs) for next year's elections will be from October 1 to 8.

The campaign period for national positions (President, Vice President, Senator) will start on Feb. 8, 2022 until May 7, 2022 or 90 days before the scheduled elections.

On the other hand, local candidates are allowed to campaign 45 days before the May 9, 2022 polls or from March 25, 2022 to May 7, 2022. (PNA)