A town mayor in Negros Occidental yesterday denied that he has a private army, and pointed out that his men have licensed firearms.
Pulupandan Mayor Magdaleno Peña, who held a press conference at the Vice Governor's wing of the Capitol in Bacolod City yesterday, was responding to questions about alleged reports that the police are monitoring him for a possible private army.
Peña added that his people have guns that are licensed, and that private armed groups are those whose men have loose or unlicensed firearms.
Peña said he called Army and police officials in the region and they denied having disclosed to the media that he had a private army.
Asked if he had a security detail with the ongoing COMELEC gun ban, Peña said he has security guards because he was once a target of a New People's Army ambush in Pulupandan town in May 2007 during the COMELEC period.
He, however, said he would not discuss his security detail because he does not want to be an ambush target.
Asked if his men, who are armed, accompany him when he goes out, he would only say “I'm an army of one.”
Vice Governor Genaro Alvarez Jr. said there were no private armies in the sixth district of Negros Occidental where he comes from, and he was not aware if there were any in other areas.
Gov. Alfredo Marañon Jr., on the other hand, said the presence of private armies in some areas has long been known.
It is up to the police and the army to arrest them if they can catch them, he said.
That was his instructions to Senior Supt. Celestino Guara, Negros Occidental police caretaker, when he was assigned to the province, the governor said.
“I asked him to keep the elections clean, honest and credible,” he added.*CPG