MANILA -- Twenty-three incumbent elective officials were arrested by the police authorities, confiscating from them multiple firearms and explosives, including black flags bearing the insignia of the international terrorist pact Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS).
The Philippine National Police (PNP) conducted a one-time-big-time (OTBT) operations aimed to secure the mid-term elections in May.
PNP chief, Gen. Oscar Albayalde said that the extensive operations of the Criminal Investigation and Detection Group (CIDG) from March 22 to 28, resulted into the arrest of 168 persons and yielded 137 firearms, and 34 explosives.
Among those elected officials arrested was incumbent Mayor Romeo Vargas of Tubajon, Dinagat Island and incumbent Vice Mayor Antonio Adlao of Tagbina, Surigao del Sur for illegal possession of firearms.
Albayalde said that this campaign against loose firearms will help curb incidents of election-related violence as well as prevent criminals from carrying out their illegal activities.
“We verify all information regarding complaints that we receive. Once we confirm that the information is real, that is the time we conduct police operations,” the PNP chief said.
“We do not care whether it is about the incumbent official or about a political rival or whoever. It doesn't matter. We will implement the law no matter what,” he assured.
Albayalde also exposed during the CIDG operations, two suspected sympathizers of the terror group Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) were arrested by joint police and military forces in Barangay Dabak Grande, Baggao, Cagayan on March 28.
“It was an operation by the CIDG and PRO (Police Regional Office) 2 and of course from the Philippine Army. They served search warrants and they seized an ISIS flag and other subversive documents and firearms. Apparently, it seems they are pledging support to the ISIS,” said Albayalde.
The suspects were identified as Altero Carrieda and Greg Carrieda, who yielded two black ISIS flags, a .45-caliber pistol, a .38-caliber revolver, and two grenades.
"This is the first time (that we caught ISIS sympathizers) outside of Mindanao area. Probably they just want to be recognized. They want to get support probably by pledging support to the ISIS,” he explained.
Albayalde said they are in continuous monitor, validating any movement of terror groups across the country.
The OTBT operations were launched and focused on the risk factors affecting the security and safety coverage of 2019 mid-term elections due to the presence of loose firearms with the intense political rivalry and presence of criminal gangs that intensify the chance of high criminal actions.
CIDG head, Maj. Gen. Amador Corpus said that the period covered a total of 193 search warrants applied on their areas of responsibilities and implemented with positive results.
“These efforts of CIDG aim to eliminate, if not, to reduce these risk factors in the country,” Corpus said.
He said it could be assessed that the first round nationwide OTBT operations of the CIDG was a big success due to the full cooperation of other PNP units, other government agencies, non-government organization partners and most importantly the members of communities.
He noted that operations will continue until the mid-term elections are over. (with reports from PNA)