The Philippine National Police is monitoring the presence of armed groups in Negros Oriental, with four months to go before the filing of the certificates of candidacy in October, for the midterm local and national elections next year.
Senior Supt. Edward Carranza, director of the Negros Oriental Police Provincial Office, said the presence of private armed groups and intense political rivalries in an area are factors in declaring the area as an election hotspot.
But he added that the Joint Security Coordinating Center has yet to meet and determine which part of the province is considered an area of concern.
Carranza, meanwhile, directed chiefs of police in the province to apply for search warrants against gun holders who failed to renew their licenses.
He said more than 5,000 firearms still have to be accounted for, and will be considered as loose guns if their holders fail to renew their permits.
Unlicensed firearms may be surrendered to the provincial command, or the gun holders face the consequences of being searched and charged in court for illegal possession.
“Loose firearms may be used by criminal elements during the elections, against political enemies, or even against the police,” Carranza said. (www.visayandailystar.com)