Verzosa orders regional police chiefs to resolve election-related violence

December 31, 2009 11:40 pm 

MANILA, Dec. 31 — PNP Chief Director General Jesus A. Verzosa on Thursday directed police regional directors (RDs) to resolve election-related violence in their areas of responsibility (AORs) even as he ordered concerned regional directors to get to the bottom of the spate of ambuscades in Northern Luzon and in Eastern Mindanao which have already killed at least four people and wounded nine others this week.

Verzosa said that the PNP should determine politically-motivated killings in order for the police to lay down appropriate interventions up to the run up of the national and local elections next year.

He directed the police regional directors of the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) and the Police Regional Office 13 (PRO CARAGA) in Mindanao, and PRO 1 (Ilocos Region) in Northern Luzon to identify the individuals or groups who were responsible in two separate ambushes in Lanao del Sur, the shooting of a vice mayoral candidate in Surigao del Norte and the murder of another local candidate in Ilocos Norte, all of which happened in a span of five days.

Verzosa wanted the police to establish the motives for these killings to separate the politically motivated ones from those which were being carried out for other reasons so that appropriate measures – besides the standard investigation and case resolution – can be laid out as it finalizes operational and security plans for the national elections next year.

“The PNP will not leave any stone unturned in our operational and security plans for next year’s national and local elections to ensure that it will be peaceful and orderly and free from any form of intimidation,” Verzosa said.

He said the PNP would not hesitate to “aggressively” respond to any form of politically-motivated violence in the country even as he appealed to the public and especially to candidates for next year’s elections to actively support the PNP’s campaign for peaceful and orderly elections.

The PNP in Region 1 has deployed a company of the elite Regional Mobile Group (RMG) in Ilocos Norte to avert escalation of violence following the shooting to death last Monday of Barangay Captain Joen Caniete, who was vying for a seat in the Dingras town council in next year’s elections.

Caniete was killed when his convoy was waylaid by at least 10 hooded gunmen on Dec. 28 in Dingras, Ilocos Norte. Eight other persons were wounded in the incident.

In his report to PNP chief Verzosa, newly-installed regional director for PRO-1 Chief Supt. Constante Azares, said that investigators were looking at politics as the primary motive for the murder.

Azares, however, did not discount other reasons behind Caniete’s killing.

Azares said that follow-up operations have netted several unlicensed firearms which were now being subjected to ballistics examinations to determine if any of these were used in the ambush of Caniete and in other past crimes.

Police operatives also arrested one of Ilocos Region’s most wanted persons. It is still not clear, however, if the arrested person is also a suspect in the murder of Caniete.

“The Ilocos Region PNP will not stop until we are able to give justice to the victim’s family and put the suspect behind bars,” Azares said.

Last Wednesday, unidentified gunmen strafed with high-powered firearms a commuter van while it was cruising the Pagadian-Malabang Highway in Lanao del Sur killing one passenger.

Two hours later, at least 10 gunmen strafed several commuter vans travelling the highway leading to Cotabato City, in Balatagan, also in Lanao del Sur. A policeman and another civilian working as a legislative staff in the ARMM were killed in that ambush.

On Tuesday night, a gunman shot and seriously wounded inside his own home, a town councilor who is running for vice mayor of Taganaan town in Surigao del Norte. (PNA)

RMA/PR/rsm

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