Private armies exist in Ecija

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    CABANATUAN CITY – At least five private armed groups (PAGs) are still “alive” to “advance political and economic agenda of public officials or private individuals” in Nueva Ecija, police disclosed on Monday.

    Each PAG is composed of five to six members, said Supt. Edgar Allan Okubo, commander of the Nueva Ecija police provincial public safety company (PPSC).

    This as acting Nueva Ecija police director, Senior Supt. Roberto Aliggayu, reported the arrest of Arturo Bernardino, 33, of barangay San Jose, Licab, Nueva Ecija who is tagged as among the remnants of the once dreaded “Alakdan Group”.

    Alakdan Group was reported to be engaged in robbery-hold-up and gun for hire activities in Nueva Ecija and adjoining areas.

    Aliggayu said Bernardino was arrested on the strength of arrest warrants for illegal possession of firearms and violations of Omnibus Election Code issued by the 1st Municipal Circuit Trial Court of Quezon-Licab on July 7, 2010 and another warrant for the same nature of offense in 2007.

    Aliggayu said that when Alakdan Group was neutralized though a series of encounter with lawmen in the past years, Bernardino joined a PAG with several other suspects, identified as Enrico Sarmiento, Vicente Fernando, Douglas Javier, Noli Roque, Sonny Corpuz and Boying Aquino.

    But Okubo said this information was cascaded to their office by the PNP intelligence directorate in Camp Crame in line with an effort to neutralize PAGs.

    One of the PAGs allegedly existing in Nueva Ecija was identified as Kamagong Group, reportedly operating in Bongabon town.

    The rest of the groups, Okubo said, are scattered in Nueva Ecija’s four congressional districts.

    Bernardino’s group was placed “under close watch and continuous manhunt by the special task group of the PPSC especially during and after the May 10, 2010 election,” Okubo said

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