TAGUM CITY—Former Tagum Mayor Rey Uy announced his mayoralty bid in 2016 elections, saying he was alarmed by the escalating crimes in the city.
His announcement came nearly five months after the international rights watchdog, Human Rights Watch (HRW), linked him to the 298 incidents of unsolved killings in Tagum City between 2007 to 2013.
In a 71-page report released last May, HRW detailed the killings as the handiwork of a death squad masterminded by Uy, an accusation denied by the former mayor.
In an exclusive interview Sunday, Uy said, “Definitely I will run as mayor this coming 2016. As a lumad [native] of Tagum, I just cannot simply ignore the deteriorating peace and order of Tagum city. The people should be secured from the rising criminalities.”
Uy said his mayoralty bid in 2016 has something to do with the peace and order in the city. “I am saddened with the news that crimes are rising again in Tagum. The people should feel that they are secured and protected in the city.”
Uy said that incumbent Tagum City Mayor Allan Rellon was having a “soft” approach in deterring crimes spawning in the city.
“Sad to note that peace and security of the people is not a priority of this [Rellon] administration,” Uy said, noting that “Tagum is now a shabu hub because of the overwhelming presence of drug addicts in the city. That’s why petty crimes here tripled in an unprecedented rate.”
Uy disclosed to DavaoToday that there are two organized crime groups and other small groups operating now in Tagum city which he blamed for the escalating crimes and the spate of killings.
“These groups are involved in robbery, hold-up and gun for hire. The small groups are making the rounds in the city and elsewhere extorting money,” said Uy.
He added that these groups were “remnants” which have intensified their recruitment to attract new members. “There are six of them. The other group is being protected by the authorities.”
When sought for his statement, Police Supt. Solomon De Castilla, Tagum’s Chief of Police, has not yet commented on the issue as of this writing.
Tagum residents randomly interviewed by DavaoToday were alarmed of the spate of killings which they attributed to the rising street crimes such as carnapping, robbery, extortion and snatching, among other crimes, which resulted to the killings of hundreds of civilians.
“I feel that I am not safe anymore here in Tagum. Street crimes are very alarming and I am worried of my security especially when I stroll in the streets at night,” said college student Axel Pantinople, 16.
Patricia Delos Reyes, 32, said that criminals are preying on individuals to whom they think are easy targets.
“Once they [criminals] will have an opportunity, they will attack you even in broad daylight. They don’t care. Usually college students and young professionals are their victims,” Delos Reyes said.
Delos Reyes shared to DavaoToday that her daughter, who is a college student, was once victimized by a snatcher. “She went home crying and trembling. Her cellphone, wallet and bags were forcibly taken by a snatcher because she was threatened to be killed if she would resist.”
“Criminals are humans too. They have grown desperate because of poverty and nothingness in life. They will strike anywhere, anytime so long there’s opportunity,” Delos Reyes noted.
Even incumbent government official and lowly civilian are not spared to this case. Just this month, Niño Cutin, a village captain of Magugpo West was shot dead by unidentified riding-in-tandem gunmen.
The most recent was Dexter Ian Selebrado, 29, a peasant organizer, who was shot and wounded last Monday afternoon after he attended the provincial-wide launching of People’s Initiative against pork barrel system in this city. Selebrado was also shot by unidentified riding-in-tandem gunmen.
For his part, incumbent Tagum City Mayor Allan Rellon augmented the police force by having civilian volunteers as force multipliers. Under the group name, United Taxpayers Against Crime (UTAC), the established group serves as “force multipliers” who are said to aid the local government’s anti-crime program.
UTAC claimed to have more than 600 members which is composed of civilian volunteers, businessmen, and motorists.(MART D. SAMBALUD/davaotoday.com)