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Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Culture of gun and violence evident even in young Muslim clan members
By Ben O. Tesiorna, Reporter

The culture of gun and violence that’s being blamed for the many instances of deaths and violence in Mindanao especially in the Muslim areas is very evident in young members of the two influential political clans of the Ampatuans and the Mangudadatus.

In a check with the Friendster accounts of some of the scions of the two clans, pictures of young boys and their friends or family members carrying very high-powered firearms are proudly being displayed in the public website.

Photos in their Friendster accounts show very young men carrying assorted firearms ranging from pistol to high-powered rifles.

Young Dabawenyos who are friends to the scions of the two most powerful political clans in Central Mindanao admitted that the young Ampatuans and Mangudadatus always carry guns with them whenever they go to bars and discos here in Davao City.

In 2002, a young Ampatuan was accused of shooting and killing Dabawenyo Carlo Asistido during an altercation in The Venue. Mohammad Ampatuan Banarin was however acquitted from the crime after the victim’s parents issued their affidavit of desistance.

The culture of gun and violence has been blamed for the November 23 massacre of 57 innocent civilians in Maguindanao.

In the series of raids conducted in the Ampatuan properties in Maguindanao, hundreds of high-powered firearms were recovered ranging from anti-tank weapons to machineguns and automatic rifles. The recovered firearms are said to be enough to supply two battalions of army.

On Tuesday, the Armed Forces of the Philippines admitted that there are about 73 private armies including that of the Ampatuans and the Mangudadatus. Forty-two partisan armed groups (PAG) are said to be found in Maguindanao with nine PAG under the control of the Ampatuans numbering to about 2,410 armed men.
The Mangudadatus meanwhile maintain one PAG with about 250 armed followers. Most of the PAG are said to be legal since they are either Citizen Armed Forces Geographical Units (Cafgu), Civilian Volunteers Organization, or Special Civilian Armed Auxiliary (Scaa).
Though these PAGs are said to be being controlled by the politicians, the military report said though that the government is the one giving allowance and supplying arms to the said PAGs since they are being used in the counter-insurgency effort in the localities.
Defense Secretary Norberto Gonzales meanwhile said that there are already about 132 PAGs all over the country with more than one million high-powered firearms most of which are said to be illegal. BOT


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