November 29, 2009 in national
By ALDWIN QUITASOL
BAGUIO CITY — Bayan Muna (BM) Representative and Deputy House Minority Leader Satur Ocampo said that the Executive Order 546 of President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo issued in July 2006 may have legalized private armies like in Maguindanao.
In a BM news release posted on their website, Ocampo asked Malacañang to recall Arroyo’s Executive Order 546 and the disbandment of the Civilian Volunteers Organization (CVOs) and other legalized private armies. This is in the wake of the Maguindanao massacre on November 23 where 57 were reported to have been slaughtered in Amaptuan town of Maguindanao. Accordingly, members of CVOs were among the suspected perpetrators.
In the said EO 546, local officials and the Philippine National Police (PNP) were given the authority to deputize barangay tanods as additional forces in the anti-insurgency campaigns. But according to Ocampo, in actual practice, GMA’s EO gave power to local officials to convert and fund their private armed groups legally poised as CVOs.
“This EO was the demented brainchild of Interior and DILG Secretary Ronaldo Puno. EO 546 made it legal for LGUs to mobilize, train and arm these so-called CVOs as local armed auxiliary units working under the supervision and command of the PNP to supposedly counter terrorist threats.
Three years later, it is proven that the CVOs are nothing but private armies who kill at the slightest whim and wish of their warlord bosses. The Maguindanao Massacre is the handiwork of one such private army,” Ocampo stressed.
Ocampo said that the CVOs who partcipated in the gruesome mass murder were most likely recruited under Arroyo’s EO 546. Ocampo added that through this EO, Extrajudicial Killings and the culture of impunity were enhanced.
According to Ocampo, the CVOs particularly those who took part in the massacre contirubute to the many human rights violations commited by the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP), the Civilian Armed Forces Geograhical Unit (CAFGU), death squads and other paramilitary forces. Ocampo also said that they are even being used as instruments of the Arroyo administration for electoral cheating.
Ocampo demanded an explanation from the regional and national officials of the AFP and PNP on their refusal to provide police and military escorts to the convoy to file the Gobernatorial candidacy of Buluan town Mayor Datu Esmael Mangudadatu and some members of the media who supposedly went to cover the event despite information of a possible clash between the Mangudadatu clan and the Ampatuan clan.
Unarmed, the convoy was said to have been accosted by armed groups allegedly members of AFP, PNP and CVOs. The armed group was also said to be led by Shariff Aguak Mayor Andal Ampatuan Jr.
“We also hold the AFP and PNP accountable for the massacre. They were tasked to protect the civilians, secure the roads the convoy would take and ensure that no violence would take place. They failed miserably, and now 46 people are dead,” said Ocampo.
Ocampo called for a credible investigative body to probe the Maguindanao carnage. He also asked the AFP and PNP to be included in the said investigation for their incompetence, ommission and possible complicity on their part.
“We cannot and must not allow this matter to be covered up and investigations white-washed. The massacre proves yet again the harsh truth that lives are cheap and highly expendable under this government, but we must fight to make those accountable pay the high price for their inhumane actions,” Ocampo further said.
The BM representative also slammed Executive Eduardo Ermita’s excuse for Malacañang’s slow action on the massacre. Ermita said they did not “have full control of the situation on the ground, mortals as we are.” Ocampo said this statement added insult to the suffering of the victim’s families and the Filipino people.
Ocampo said that Ermita is wrong when he said that such barbaric acts cannot be prevented. He said that all it takes to prevent such is a corruption-free government without leaders wielding guns, goons and gold. “Malacañang’s entire response to this barbarity has been most disappointing to say the least; and its words of consolation and promises of decisive and just action do not comfort or assure anyone,” Ocampo said.
Ocampo also hit Arroyo for her statement on the massacre as false and insincere. He said that it took long days for Arroyo to issue such statement and to order the AFP to take actions. He further said that the violence characterized in the massacre is not new under her rule, he added that the pattern continues because of the administration’s own bent towards HRVs and perpetuating the culture of impunity.
“ It comforts and assures no one that Malacañang has promised that justice will be rendered to the victims, because in the same breath, its various officials and spokespersons are already issuing excuses that there is no sufficient evidence to pin down the perpetrators,” said the lawmaker.
Ocampo also said the increased militray presence and activities in Maguindanao should be aimed at arresting the right suspects and not fall guys and innocent civilians. He also said that efforts should be focused on the arrest of all the Ampatuan clan leaders and not only their followers. “The Ampatuans must not be treated with kid gloves, and afforded no special treatment,” he ended. # nordis.net