Wednesday, 24 March 2010

Arroyo-formed body moves decisively vs. private armies

http://www.gov.ph/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=2003203&Itemid=1

The Independent Commission Against Private Armies (ICAPA), the Presidential body created by President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo to look into the existence of partisan armed groups in the country, has directed the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) and the Philippine National Police (PNP) to step up efforts to dismantle these groups to ensure honest, orderly and peaceful elections in May.

The directives were contained in two resolutions the ICAPA forwarded to the AFP and PNP through their representatives in simple ceremonies held today at the Conference Room of the Mabini Hall in Malacañang .

ICAPA Chair Monina Zenarosa, retired associate justice of the Court of Appeals, presented ICAPA Resolutions No. 001-10 and 002-10 to Colonel Ricardo Nepomuceno of the Operations Division of the AFP and Chief Superintendent Cipriano Querol, Jr., Executive Officer of the Directorate for Police Community Relations of the PNP.

“Today I am pleased to announce that the Commission after thorough deliberations, interviews, consultative meetings with politicians and other stakeholders has come up with these two resolutions,” Zenarosa said.

Under Resolution No. 001-10, the ICAPA strongly urged the AFP to conduct an inventory of firearms and ammunition issued to Civilian Armed Forces Geographical Unit (CAFGU) and to monitor CAFGU and Special Civilian Active Auxiliaries personnel to detect the possibility of them getting involved in election-related violence.

The Commission asked the AFP to report on the matter to the Commission within 10 days.

The Commission also directed the AFP to beef up troop presence in identified security-risk areas, such as Lanao del Sur and Masbate, and to set up more checkpoints in the coastal areas of the two provinces, amid reports of unregulated firearm shipments.

The commission also requested the beefing up of military and police checkpoints in Abra, particularly in the far-flung towns of Tineg and Malibcong, to ensure strict compliance with the gun ban to deter not only political groups but armed insurgents from disrupting the election process.

In the other resolution (No. 002-10), the ICAPA also directed the PNP to conduct a physical inventory of firearms issued to Provincial Jail Guards, Provincial Security Forces, Civilian Volunteer Organizations, police auxiliary units and/or Barangay tanods and to submit a report to the Commission within 10 days.

Part of the directive was for the PNP to regulate the unauthorized use of police and military uniforms and vehicles and to cause the arrest of civilians and unauthorized personnel in violation of such.

The ICAPA was created by President Arroyo’s Administrative Order No. 275 issued by on December 8, 2009. The AO gave further directions to PNP and AFP with an additional impetus in dismantling partisan private armies in the country.

President Arroyo created the commission in the aftermath of the Nov. 23 massacre of 57 people in Maguindanao that has involved the Ampatuan clan and its private army.

Aside from Zenarosa, other ICAPA members are Butuan Bishop Juan de Dios Pueblos, Mahmod Mala Adilao of the Bishops-Ulama Conference, retired Police Deputy Director General Virtus Gil, broadcaster Herman Basbaño, Dante Jimenez of the Volunteers Against Crime and Corruption and former AFP Lieutenant General Edilberto Adan.

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