Thursday, December 10, 2009


Even if maintaining private armies is cast in stone and barred by the impregnable wall of the Philippine Law and the Constitution, but according to the military report which got into the hands of the abs-cbn news on December 8, 2009, there are seventy three (73) partisan armed groups (PAGs) that are being maintained and under the control of several big politicians throughout the country. Forty two (42) of these are in the Province of Maguindanao: nine (9) are with the Ampatuans’ clan particularly the Patriarch governor of the Province of Maguindanao Gov. Andal Ampatuan, Sr., Sarrif Aguak Mayor Andal Ampatuan, Jr., and the governor of the Autonomous Region for Muslim Mindanao Gov. Zaldy Ampatuan. They have a total of Two Thousand Four Hundred (2,400) active forces.

Gubernatorial candidate and Vice Mayor Ismael Mangudadatu
in a striped shirt, waves to the crowd after filing his certificate
of candidacy for governor. It was his wife and relatives together with 36 journalists who were killed in the Maguindanao Massacre on
November23, 2009. Photo from google image search

ARMM Gov. Zaldy Ampatuan with Pres. Arroyo.

Photo from google image search

The Mangudadatus’ clan, on the other hand, who are the political rival of the Ampatuans and whose wife and relatives, together with the thirty six (36) journalists who were brutally massacred on November 23, 2009 by the Ampatuans, have 250 men.

Sulu Provincial Governor Sakur Tan, on extreme left

Sulu 2nd District Cong Munir Arbison in white polo.
Photo from google image search

Lanao del Sur Balindong
Photo from google image search

Mayor Cherry Lyn Akbar, the widow of slain Congressman
Wahab Akbar, touches her husband's coffin during his
burial at Isabela, the capital of the island province of
Basilan in the southern Philippines
Photo from google image search

Basilan Salapuddin
Photo from google image search

Basilan Hataman
Photo from google image search

In the Province of Sulu, Gov. Sakur Tan have 2,700 active forces in his private armies, while Cong. Munir Erbison have 2,500. In Lanao del Norte, the Dimaporos have also undetermined number of private armies. In Lanao del Sur, the Balindongs also have their own private armies. In Basilan, the widow of Wahar Akbhar, have her private armies also. Likewise, the Salapuddin and the Hataman have also private armies.

All these partisan armed groups (PAGs) have been organized legally as civilian volunteers (CVOs), and civilian armed forces geographical units (CAFGUs) which are supposedly under the command of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP). This was made possible in July 2006, when President Arroyo issued Executive Order 546, allowing local officials and the PNP to deputize barangay tanods as “force multipliers" in the fight against insurgents. But in reality, the EO 546 allows local officials to convert their private armed armies into legal entities with a fancy name: civilian volunteer organizations (CVOs).

Lanao Del Norte Governor Mohammad Khalid Q Dimaporo and

2nd District Rep. Abdullah Dimaporo. (Exequiel Supera NIB-OPS Photo)

According to University of the Philippines (UP) Political Science Professor Roland Simbulan, where there are insurgency problem in that area, it is where there are armed groups that are being supplied with arms by the government. They are use to fight the insurgents. And the fact is, these armed men are given salaries and allowances by the government with the peoples’ taxes.

However, the reality is that these PAGs are being used by the big politicians as their private armies and the government is playing blind and dumb about this. The AFP admitted that in the case of the Ampatuans, they were supplied CAFGU units to fight the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF).

Department of National Defense and
National Security Adviser Norberto Gonzales

Corollarily, on his part, the Secretary of the Department of National Defense and concurrent National Security Adviser Norberto Gonzales says, that the estimated number of armed groups throughout the country is now 132, and they are possessing around 1 million unlicensed firearms, most of them in Mindanao.

Indeed, they lost track of it anymore but the bottom line is that, these PAGs are under the command of the AFP, they feed them, let them grow, given salaries and allowances, and cuddled them. With these armed groups sprouting all over the country under the tutelage of the AFP, there’s sufficient reason the people in this country have to be suspicious and wary about.

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