More troop deployment 'answered prayer' for Samar – congressman
TACLOBAN CITY, Philippines – The deployment of more troops to Samar is an "answered prayer" for residents, especially as the 2019 elections draw near, a Samar congressman said.
"President Duterte’s order to deploy more security forces to Samar is an answered prayer for Samareños who are constantly terrorized by private armed groups during election season," said Samar 1st District Representative Edgar Mary Sarmiento.
"This move to deploy more troops to Samar and other areas deemed as election hot spots is definitely a welcome relief for most people of Samar," Sarmiento added.
Duterte, through Memorandum Circular No. 32, ordered the deployment of more soldiers and cops to the Bicol region and the provinces of Samar, Negros Oriental, and Negros Occidental to "suppress lawless violence and acts of terror."
Sarmiento, however, warned against sending soldiers and cops with ties to local candidates in the 2019 polls.
"We definitely welcome more security forces assigned in the province but I would also suggest a thorough vetting and background check for those who will be assigned to secure us. Baka naman yung mga i-assign sa amin eh mayroon palang mga kamag-anak, kaibigan o kakilala na sinusuportahan (The ones assigned here might be relatives, friends, or acquaintances of candidates)," Sarmiento stressed.
The lawmaker reiterated his call for the police and the military to create a national task force against private armed groups and hired assassins in Samar – a known political hotspot because of its long history of politically motivated killings.
"We must disarm them before they place more civilians in danger. Any person or faction that we can disarm ahead of the elections next year would equate to lives being saved," he said.
Sarmiento and local chief executives of Calbayog, Sta Margarita, Matuginao, San Jorge and Gandara had previously asked the police and army to create Task Force CAGASMAS (Calbayog, Gandara, San Jorge, Matuginao and Sta Margarita) to neutralize private armed groups and and hired guns in those towns.
Major General Raul Farnacio, commander of the 8th Infantry Division based in Samar, earlier said the President's order would be key to driving out communist rebels and private armed groups in Samar. – Rappler.com