By Jorge Hallare
LEGAZPI CITY --- Some 2,000 police officers under a task force will be deployed in the island-province of Masbate in order to ensure a peaceful and orderly barangay election there on May 14.
Philippine National Police (PNP) Bicol regional spokesperson Malu Calubaquib said the ‘Task Force Masbate’ will be formed to combat violence and the rising cases of shooting incidents in the province, as the election period starts on April 14.
“PNP Regiona Director Chief Supt. Antonio Gardiola Jr. planned to assign additional police officers in Masbate and ask the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP), especially Philippine Army, to field additional soldiers in the area,” she said in an interview on Tuesday.
Citing data of PNP Bicol from January 1 to March 28, Calubaquib said there were 90 cases of shooting incidents recorded in the Bicol region, wherein Masbate topped with
42 incidents, followed by Camarines Sur, 20; Albay, 17; Camarines Norte, seven; and Sorsogon with four cases.
The Police Regional Office (PRO5) is still consolidating the latest recorded shooting incidents this April, especially in Masbate.
The police are still investigating if these shooting incidents were perpetrated by the New People’s Army, or members of private armed groups; and if those were election-related violence.
Some of the recorded incidents were the killing of councilor Joey Pacheco of Capaculan Village in Milagros town early morning of Jan. 17.
Councilor Donald Carba was shot dead on the evening of Feb. 6 by three unidentified suspects. He was shot inside his store and in front of his wife in Barangay Mabini, San Pascual town.
On Feb. 21, incumbent village chairman Pedro Arizala of Barangay Poblacion, Cataingan town was shot dead by alleged New People’s Army (NPA) rebels identified as Reynaldo Mollejan alias ‘Ka RM’ and a certain ‘Ka Manong.’
Incumbent village chairman Shiela Drio, 47, and her husband Regalado, 48, were shot dead also by alleged NPA rebels inside their house in Barangay Dayhagan, Aroroy town on March 22. After they were shot, their house was ransacked by the suspects.
Former priest and businessman Aldrin Aguran, 49, of Barangay Tugbo, Mobo town was shot by suspect Ariel Miralles of Barangay Panique, Aroroy town last March 27. Aguran allegedly was planning to run this coming barangay election as chairman. PNA