Posted by: JWP | 12/08/2009

More Arms Cache found in Maguindanao | Ret General Confirms:Govt armed Ampatuans

Maguindanao town hall yields arms cache

19 more arrested

By Abigail Kwok

INQUIRER.net

First Posted 13:27:00 12/08/2009

Filed Under: Maguindanao Massacre, Election Violence

MANILA, Philippines–Authorities continue to recover several high-powered firearms scattered throughout the province of Maguindanao which are believed to have been stashed by rebel forces linked with the influential Ampatuan clan.

On Monday’s search, authorities unearthed an arms cache right at the back of the Ampatuan municipal hall, said Philippine National Police Director General Jesus Verzosa on Tuesday.

The firearms unearthed consisted of 14 M16 rifles, an M16 rifle with an attached M203 grenade launcher, and an M14 rifle.

Police also arrested 19 people for their alleged involvement in the site. These were taken to the 6th Infantry Division Headquarters in Awang, Maguindanao for investigation, Verzosa said.

Another search in a vacant lot in Barangay (village) Bagong, Shariff Aguak also on Monday led to the recovery of a lower receiver for an M16 rifle, a spare barrel for an M60 machinegun, 15 bandoliers, six rifle bags, a radio charger, 250 rounds of live ammunition for 7.62 millimeter, and 17 rounds of 12-gauge shotgun shells.

Meanwhile, on Sunday, police also recovered from the residence of Sangguniang Bayan (town council) member Datu Orato Muhammad Sanki eight silk screens for printing of PNP logos, and ammunition reloading components and equipment consisting of 166 cartridge cases for caliber 45 pistol, 990 pieces of bullet heads, three boxes of Winchester primers, a plastic container of smokeless gunpowder, 16 empty cartridges for 9mm ammunition, and a set of reloading machine.

Verzosa said the discovery of arms cache was an “encouraging development in efforts to establish an effective system of gun control in the country under the National Firearms Control Program (NFCP).”

This happened as Verzosa said he has police forces to intensify operations in dismantling private armies in the province.

“I have designated the Regional and Provincial Mobile Groups to spearhead our campaign to run after and dismantle all private armed groups in the country, especially in places considered by the PNP as Election Areas of Concern,” Verzosa said.

He added that apart from arresting members of these private armies, police forces are also tasked to arrest patrons, benefactors, and leaders of these private armed groups.

Retired general confirms: Govt armed Ampatuans

by Queenie Casimiro, ABS-CBN News Zamboanga | 12/07/2009 6:04 PM

A retired military general has admitted that it was the government that armed the Ampatuans.

This was the statement of retired Maj. Gen. Jovito Palparan who is making his rounds in the country as he announces his bid for a Senate seat in the May 2010 elections.

Palparan said that Andal Ampatuan Sr., patriarch of the powerful Maguindanao clan, has been known to be a partner of the government in fighting rebels, particularly the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF).

“Kaya iyong pag-armas natin sa kanila ay bilang pagpapasalamat lang iyon,” Palparan said. “Ang dami niya kasing naitulong sa military, sa gobyerno.”

Palparan however said the arming of the powerful Maguindanao clan was “legitimate at that time because they also had to defend themselves against the MILF.”

But the retired Army general admitted that the situation “got out of hand.”

Authorities have said they were surprised with the volume of firearms and ammunitions they unearthed from properties of the Ampatuans in various areas in Maguindanao.

The gruesome massacre of at least 57 civilians in Ampatuan town in Maguindanao by 100 armed men purportedly led by members of the Ampatuan clan last November 23 has highlighted the need to disarm and dissolve private armed groups, not only in Central Mindanao but other parts of the country as well.

“Why only us?”

Edgar Araojo of Akbayan partylist group said, however, that the Ampatuans might have an axe to grind against Malacañang since government seem to be “singling them out.”

“The Ampatuans may say, ‘why only us?’” Araojo said. “There are other, more, political warlords elsewhere that government should also be dealing with. It should be a national campaign.”

Meanwhile, local officials in the island provinces of the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) have expressed support to the campaign against private armies.

Sulu 2nd district Rep. Munir Arbison said that the 2010 elections will be bloody if private armed groups are not disarmed at the soonest possible time.

Arbison, in a phone interview, alleged that Sulu Gov. Sakur Tan has over 3,000 police auxiliaries.

Tan, in a separate interview however, said that the police auxiliaries are under the direct control of the chiefs of police in the areas they are assigned to.

Tan also said that he too is in favor of the plan. But “government should first address and put to an end the problem of insurgency and other peace and order-related problems in Sulu,” said the governor.

Senior Superintendent Tony Mendoza, Sulu police director, meanwhile said he plans to call local officials in the province to a meeting to convince them to abide by the policy of only 2 uniformed security personnel per politician.

Meanwhile, local officials in ARMM provinces are reportedly waiting how the government would be implementing the campaign against private armies.

as of 12/07/2009 6:04 PM

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