INTERIOR Secretary Benhur Abalos Jr. presided over a meeting with police and officials from the Union of Local Authorities of the Philippines (Ulap) to discuss the safety and security of communities and local government officials (LGUs) in light of the recent violent attacks against them.

During the meeting, Ulap, the umbrella organization of leagues of LGUs, expressed extreme concern over the safety of local authorities following gun attacks.

It called for swift and effective actions to bring the perpetrators to justice and to institute security measures for LGUs.

“It is undeniable that the sizable number of killings of local government officials and the brazenness of this recent spate of deaths combine to send a chilling message to our people, hindering the democratic process and threatening the stability of the nation,” Ulap National President Dakila Cua said.

Among the recent attacks were the ambush involving Lanao del Sur Governor Mamintal Alonto Adiong Jr. on February 17 in Maguing town; Aparri, Cagayan Vice Mayor Rommel Alameda on February 19 in Nueva Vizcaya; Ohto Montawal on February 22 in Pasay City; and Barangay San Carlos, Lipa City, Batangas chairman Vivencio Palo on February 26.

Adiong survived the attack but three of his security staff were killed, while Alameda along with his five companions were killed.

Montawal is already out of danger while Palo was killed.

The most recent brazen attack was on March 4 in Pamplona town, Negros Oriental, resulting in the death of Governor Roel Degamo and eight others, including innocent civilians..

During the meeting, the PNP provided updates on the current security situation in different areas of the country and discussed ongoing investigations on the recent attacks on local government officials.

In a press conference on Monday, March 6, PNP chief General Rodolfo Azurin Jr. said criminal complaints for four counts of murder, three counts of frustrated murder and multiple attempted murder have already been filed against several suspects in relation to Adiong’s ambush.

Charges against the two arrested suspects on Palo’s assassination were also filed while Montawal’s case is still under investigation.

In terms of Alameda’s case, charges were filed against the suspects last week.

Hours following Degamo’s assassination, police arrested four of the alleged gunmen and killed one more.

Azurin said the identification of the brains behind Degamo’s slay is underway.

Ulap said the PNP recognized the need for more localized intelligence gathering and collaboration with local authorities to determine imminent threats to local authorities.

Abalos emphasized the need to work closely with Ulap to ensure the open lines between the police and local government officials for their safety and security. (SunStar Philippines)