CATBALOGAN CITY, Samar – The Samar provincial government would offer Php100,000 for the immediate arrest of private armies with standing warrant of arrest to attain peace and order in the area.
“The reward is in the hope that criminality in the province will stop and that for criminals to realize that their acts are not welcome in Samar,” said Governor Sharee Ann Tan.
The official made the announcement during the recent Samar Peace and Security Dialogue at the army camp in this city. Private armies members have been tagged as suspects in the recent killings.
“The provincial government has to go to this extent of offering the monetary reward to show to the world that we do not tolerate and we condemn senseless killing in the province,” Tan added.
“I hope that at least within the month, one person with warrant of arrest will be caught by authorities.”
Police Regional Director Chief Supt. Asher Dolina said they have already validated the names of wanted private armies.
“In coordination with the Philippine Army, we will run after them and impose the rule of law in the province of Samar,” Dolina said.
Dolina asked village officials to take part in the drive to hunt down criminals especially when these people are seen in their communities.
The police official, however, refused to divulge the number of wanted PAGS members in Samar as part of their operational plan.
Meawnhile, local officials in Samar from different political parties recently gathered for a peace and security dialogue initiated by the Philippine Army’s 8th Infantry Batallion and the Philippine National Police.
The dialogue prompted political opponents Samar Governor Sharee Ann Tan and Calbayog City Mayor Ronald Aquino to both agree to work for peace.
Town mayors of Sta. Margarita, Matuguinao, Almagro, and San Jorge were also present along with their village officials.
Maj. Gen. Jet Velarmino said the conduct of the dialogue is in response to the series of killings in Samar. From January to mid-September, there are already 34 shooting incidents, resulting to 22 deaths. Most of these were recorded in Calbayog City, the hometown of Interior and Local Government Secretary Mel Senen Sarmiento.
Last week, a family of five, including two children, were brutally killed in Victory village in Calbayog by alleged private armies.
Both Tan and Aquino agreed to stop and resolve the killings that are perceived to be politically motivated and perpetrated by private armies.
Tan said the provincial government of Samar will not tolerate any killings, especially when innocent people are the victims.
Aquino, for his part, appreciated the police and army in pursuing the dialogue.
Dolina said the dialogue is the beginning in their pursuit to impose rule of law in the province. (PNA)
FPV/SQM/LIZBETH A. ABELLA/EGR