Private armies maintained by political dynasties and some incumbent politicians have been placed in the limelight these days on account of the grisly Maguindanáo Massacre on the morning of November 23. With the 2010 Philippine National Elections approaching as fast as Christmas, authorities are keeping a closer eye to potential election-related hostilities that might be caused by these power-hungry warlords masquerading as political candidates.
Following the investigation and suppression of the powerful Ampatuan clan’s private army in Muslim Mindanáo, Defense Secretary Norberto Gonzales issued a report that at least 132 armed groups all over the country are connected with other political clans. What is alarming is that the Martial Law imposed in Maguindanáo a few days ago might be expanded to other parts of the country due to this revelation by the Department of National Defense (DND).
Already, both the Armed Forces in the Philippines and the Philippine National Police (PNP) have been monitoring these armed groups scattered all over the country, with PNP Director General Jesús Verzosa ordering tactical police units to dismantle and neutralize all known private armies in their jurisdictions.
But why wait for a massacre before acting against these armed-to-the-teeth scoundrels?
The public should also be observant with the government’s move. It is already widely known and accepted that the eight-year-old Arroyo Administration is the most corrupt regime the country ever had (surpassing even the Marcos regime’s two-decade infamy). Thus, it is not a bad idea not to put one’s trust on an administration riddled with scams and other questionable activities. It is highly probable that Ms. Arroyo will use this DND report as an excuse to place the whole country under the dreaded Martial Law.
Both Senate and House leaders should keep vigil.