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PIA Press Release

PGMA orders creation of commission to go after private armies

Manila (5 December) -- A high level commission has been formed to dismantle private armed groups, especially those controlled by political clans, Press Secretary Cerge Remonde disclosed during a media briefing held on December 4.

President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo and the National Security Council (NSC) adopted this course of action in response to the Maguindanao massacre and in an effort to avert other election-related violence, Secretary Remonde said.

President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo on Friday ordered the creation of a commission to oversee the dismantling of political clan-dominated private armies in Maguindanao and other hot spots in the country.

Arroyo issued the order during a meeting of the National Security Council on the Maguindanao massacre in Malacaņang Friday afternoon, Press Secretary Cerge Remonde announced in the media briefing.

'I'm happy to announce that one of the decisions arrived at... was the creation of a commission to dismantle private armed groups especially those related to political clans,' he said.

On why a commission had to be created to dismantle private armed groups, Secretary Remonde said this "will give focus and emphasis and put more teeth and impetus to the President's desire to ensure a fair, clean, honest and orderly elections in 2010."

Secretary Remonde said the fact-finding commission will be headed by a retired justice, but he declined to give a name pending the nominee's acceptance of the appointment.

Secretary Puno added that the creation of the commission will insure transparency in the dismantling of private armed groups since it would involve the different institutions of government.

The Philippine National Police was expected to step up the dismantling of private armies in the run-up to the May 2010 elections, and would need the guidance of such a commission, Interior Secretary Ronaldo Puno said.

"The PNP and the Commission on Elections have already identified hot spots that need vigilant monitoring and surveillance," Secretary Puno said. He explained that during elections, the PNP has always been under the direct supervision and guidance of the Comelec.

Maguindanao as well as Basilan, Sulu, Lanao del Norte, Lanao del Sur, Samar, Masbate, Nueva Ecija and Abra are on the initial list of election'hot spots' because of the presence of private armies, according to PNP Director General Jesus Verzosa

General Verzosa added that the PNP is now reviewing the disposition of civilian volunteer organizations (armed groups) that are being used by different politicians. These include groups like SCAAs (special CAFGUs) and other private armed groups. (PIA 8) [top]

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