Task Force Gains vs. Private Armies

LAOAG CITY – The task force against private armed groups has gained ground in its war against organized crimes with the identification of individuals who are allegedly engaged in contract killings.

Provincial board member Fidel Cimatu, task force chief, said the group is keeping a list of individuals who have been found to be involved in gun-for-hire syndicates.

Cimatu, however, refused to divulge their identities during the provincial peace and order council meeting on Monday to protect the task force’s operational policy.

“We have a list of gun for hire personalities. But these are subject for further evaluation,” Cimatu, a retired police general, said when asked to reveal their names.

The task force against private armed group or anti-PAG was formally presented during the PPOC meet that was presided by Ilocos Norte Governor Imee Marcos with officials of the Philippine National Police, the Philippine Army and other government agencies in attendance.

Cimatu said the task force has seized at least six firearms and filed charges against those in possession since it started operating in November last year.

The task force was created through Executive Order 22-10 with a goal to identify and prosecute private armies, guns for hire and other organized crime groups.

It complements the PNP’s peace-keeping efforts with the formation of four task force clusters namely: LGU concerns, headed by Paoay Mayor and Mayors’ League president Bonifacio Clemente Jr.; law enforcement, headed by PNP provincial director Marlou Chan; multi-sectoral concerns, headed by religious group representative Fr. Philip Dimagiba and the PNP Legal Service.

Cimatu said the task force intends to reduce shooting and killing incidents that have weakened Ilocos Norte’s peaceful environment.

Other task force mandates include cutting gun-related incidents, dismantling private armies, bringing suspects to court and instituting reward systems for informants. (Cristina Arzadon – PIA Ilocos Norte)