Peñas dares Cagas to name politicians with private armies

By Anthony S. Allada

DIGOS CITY, Davao del Sur – Mayor Joseph Peñas challenged political rival Governor Douglas Cagas to name politicians allegedly employing private armies or Partisan Armed Groups (PAGs) that could be used by means of violence to win the upcoming May 13, 2013 mid-term elections.

“If he is brave enough to come out in the open, he should name names,” Peñas told the Edge Davao in an interview Tuesday morning at his residence in Estrada I here.

Peñas, who is seeking reelection against Cagas, said that only him and incumbent Vice Governor and first district congressional aspirant Arsenio Latasa are known politicians in the city that Cagas might be referring to in his earlier revelation.

During the Regional Peace and Order Council (RPOC) meeting last week in Davao City, Cagas asked the Police Regional Office 11 to contain the existence of PAGs in his province employed by incumbent officials, especially mentioning Digos City, Jose Abad Santos and Malita.

He described the incoming polls in the province to be the bloodiest to happen because of the presence of the so-called PAGs.

But Peñas, a lawyer and certified public accountant, said that since he has been a politician in the late 1980’s he never engaged in hiring henchmen, adding he is only in the company of his driver-bodyguard who is a policeman.

He said Cagas has been very vocal about the existence of PAGs when he himself had been even hiring bodyguards known to be involved in gun-for-hire operations.

“Look, who has been talking now?”  Peñas asked.

This was the first time that Peñas and Cagas are squaring off for the mayoral post after the latter opted not to seek reelection in the gubernatorial race but instead fielded his son, Marc Douglas Cagas IV, who is the incumbent first district congressman, against former second district Rep. Claude Bautista.

Latasa is running against third and last termer first district board member Mercedes Cagas, the governor’s wife. (ASA)

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