PNP on the lookout for new private armies in Maguindanao

The government’s security forces are on the lookout for the possible resurgence of politician-controlled private armed groups in Maguindanao a year after the infamous massacre in the province.

Authorities are monitoring the movements and activities of new political leaders there to check if they have formed new private armies in the area, according to Philippine National Police (PNP) spokesman Senior Supt. Agrimero Cruz

“Hindi po maalis sa atin na talagang i-monitor iyong galaw at activities at program ng bagong liderato doon. At kasama sa minamanmanan iyong pagkakaulit ng ‘vicious cycle’ kung tawagin natin… na magkaroon (uli) ng private armies…” Cruz told reporters during a press briefing on Monday.

(We are monitoring the movements, activities, and programs of the new leaders there. The monitoring includes what we call the vicious cycle…the resurgence of private armies.)

Although there are still some armed groups in the province, the PNP spokesman said the private armed groups maintained by the Ampatuan clan have already been dismantled by the PNP and the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP).

The clan and its private armies are believed to be behind the massacre of 57 people including 32 journalists on November 23, 2009.

“As of now, there are some armed groups in the province, but they could be members of the MILF (Moro Islamic Liberation Front) and there are still some CVOs (civilian volunteer organizations) there,” Cruz said.

He added that the security situation in Maguindanao had vastly improved since last year’s massacre. “The PNP and AFP have deployed augmentation forces there… local PNP and AFP are on their toes to ensure the maintenance of peace and order in the area.”

There are 195 people facing charges for the gruesome killings led by former Ampatuan town Mayor Andal Ampatuan Jr. and his father, former Maguindanao governor Andal Ampatuan Sr.

Of the 195 suspects, 82 have already been arrested. Most of them are incarcerated at the Bicutan Jail in Taguig City.

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