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60 SAF troops arrive in Samar to battle ‘lawless violence’

TACLOBAN CITY – About 60 members of the Special Action Force (SAF) of the Philippine National Police (PNP) have arrived in Samar.

Chief Supt. Dionardo Carlos, Eastern Visayas police director, said the SAF members were housed at the provincial police headquarters in Catbalogan City, Samar.

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He said they were deployed ‘immediately’ after the issuance by Malacañang of Memorandum Circular 32 purportedly to address ‘lawless violence’ in the province.

Memorandum Order 32 was issued on November 22.

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Carlos said in an interview that the SAF members would be deployed to ‘specific areas’ in Samar, once a guideline [is] drafted with their counterparts at the 8th Infantry Division, which is also based in Catbalogan City.

“We are waiting for the guidelines in coordination with our counterparts … [as to] where they will be deployed,” Carlos said.

By Samar, Carlos said, this could include the three provinces of the island, namely, Western Samar, Eastern Samar, and Northern Samar.

The three Samar provinces continue to struggle with the presence of the New People’s Army and private armed groups.

Carlos added that he would also ask all the Samar police headquarters to organize their own forces help the visiting forces.

Carlos allayed the fears that the augmentation of forces may result to abuses or human rights violations.

“We are addressing crimes. If you commit a crime, murder people and harass people to pursue something that is not for the betterment of the country, eh tatayo kami bilang (we will stand as) security forces, together with the Armed Forces,” he said.

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