The PNP Special Action Force.

CALBAYOG CITY, Samar,  (PNA) –- The Philippine National Police (PNP) will deploy Special Action Force (SAF) Company in Samar province by January next year to help ensure peace and order ahead of the 2016 polls.

PNP Director General Ricardo Marquez, during his visit in this city on Tuesday, said the SAF Company composed of at least 88 personnel will be deployed in the city.

According to Marquez, the SAF as well as the CIDG will serve as a support unit to the existing local police force.

Marquez added that there will be no conflicts on the functions with other police forces in the area, as the commander of the Regional Special Operations Task Group will be the one to look into their deployment.

“The SAF and the intelligence group will serve as the support units to the local police force, the Commander of the RSOTG will make their deployment,” Marquez explained.

The top police official said the priority deployment of SAF aims to address election concerns, run after private armed groups, among others.

The PNP has declared five provinces in the country, including Samar as an area of concern for the upcoming elections.

However, Marquez clarified that the declaration was not due to the reported killings in the city, but based on the general situation of the province.

The national police headquarters asked their field commanders to make an assessment of factors that have an impact on elections like presence of private armed groups (PAGS), politically-motivated violence during the past two elections, political rivalries, and the existence of loose firearms.

“It is not just Calbayog, but the entire province of Samar is under the watch list,” Marquez said. “We also closely look at former private armed group members that were reported before,” he added.

Samar province, particularly this city was in the limelight in the past months due to shooting incidents allegedly perpetuated by private armed groups.

PNP Calbayog recorded 43 shooting incidents this year from January to mid-December. In the entire 2014, there were 48 shooting incidents in the city. In the past two years, some of the victims were village officials and political leaders.

In October, the PNP launched the Regional Special Operations Task Group – Samar headed by Sr. Supt. Isias Tonog.

Since October, the group has already conducted nine operations in coordination with the Philippine Army, leading to the arrest of seven alleged private armies. Tonog is hopeful that PAGS will be neutralized before May 2016.

“Actually at this time, there are no reported incidents involving private armed groups like what happened in Victory village in Calbayog and Caugbusan village in Gandara. I hope that with our operation, they will be captured or surrender to authorities,” Tonog added.

Marquez said that they are dedicated to solve the problem. He also urged residents to help them in their efforts to curb the killings in the province.

“We do not entertain the illusion that we can solve the problem, but we are committed and dedicated to solve these problems,” the official told the police officers here. (PNA)