Series of attacks unsettle BARMM leaders more

In fact, some town mayors use the monthly IRA allocation as security for personal loans they get from local loan sharks.

The spate of attacks and assassinations of local executives has unsettled political leaders. Their phalanx of security guards provided by the government cannot save them from determined killers. And this is more pronounced in the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao because of the peculiar security situation there with the presence of armed quasi-militia who are not organic and are “beyond” the scope of a government authority.

Before the ambush of Governor Bombit Adiong last month, there was the assassination of Mayor Rose Furigay of Lamitan City, Basilan, and the attempt on Mayor Otto Montawal of Datu Montawal town, Maguindanao. These incidents delivered a profound message of their vulnerability. This has made them redraw their security strategy and reboot protective management measures.

In the attack and death of Governor Roel Degamo, there were questions raised about the simultaneous leaves of absence of the government security men assigned to him. Many asked: Was this an inside job? For one, Speaker Martin Romualdez was reported to have asked for an explanation for their absence. Now, heads of the local government units in BARMM are personally choosing their security escorts. In fact, they have made known their preference for relatives who will take a bullet for them. In the case of the ambush of Governor Adiong, most of the victims were his close relatives who shielded him from the hail of bullets.

The investigation into the attack on Governor Degamo is leading to the possibility that the attackers were hired killers. In fact, the suspects arrested are former military men who were either dismissed or had gone AWOL. The hitmen could have been given millions of pesos to eliminate a political rival. The brains behind attacks on local executives must have done their math — giving money to the mercenaries is less expensive and a hassle than engaging rivals in a political campaign which is more expensive, strenuous and burdensome.

If elected, they could easily recover the money given to the mercenaries through government projects and other forms of anomalies. In the BARMM areas, the Internal Revenue Allotment is treated by some local executives as a personal kitty. In fact, some town mayors use the monthly IRA allocation as security for personal loans they get from local loan sharks. In other words, would-be candidates could spend less and win with the assassination of their opponents.

Security for the heads of local government units in the BARMM has become more complex with the presence of members of the rebel group that negotiated peace with the government and who are authorized to carry their firearms until their full decommissioning. The rebel group has formed its political party ready to slug it out in elections. A sage once said that he who holds the gun wins the bet.

This is true in remote areas of BARMM.

No wonder the governors comprising the BARMM have asked for the postponement of the October barangay elections until after the full decommissioning of the rebel group. National officials should address this request seriously, it being a possible powder keg that could explode during the hustings.

The downside of this phenomenon is the proliferation of loose firearms and the justification of these politicians for their private armies. It was reported the PNP has increased the number of police escorts of politicians from two to six. This gives them an added stature of power which some can abuse to harass and terrorize opponents. Which is more evil — the existence of these private armies or the status quo? Policymakers have a full plate to digest.

Meantime, the Philippine National Police and the military should augment their forces in remote areas. Their visibility could be an effective deterrent to attacks on political leaders. They should devise security measures specific to the peculiar circumstances in the BARMM.


[email protected]

Read more Daily Tribune stories at:

Follow us on social media
Facebook: @tribunephl
Youtube: TribuneNow
Twitter: @tribunephl
Instagram: @tribunephl
TikTok: @dailytribuneofficial