Silence of newly installed defense chief on Maguindanao massacre, a puzzle, says leftwing group

By Sugar Hicap

Manila, Philippines-Leftwing militants identified with the fisherfolk alliance Pambansang Lakas ng Kilusang Mamamalakaya ng Pilipinas (Pamalakaya) on Thursday said they were puzzled with the “irrevocable silence” displayed by newly installed defense secretary National Security Adviser Norberto Gonzalez on the Maguindanao massacre.

Pamalakaya vice-chairperson Salvador France made the inquiry an hour after Justice Secretary Agnes Devanadera and Chief State Prosecutor Jovencito Zuno made the inquest on principal suspect Datu Unsay mayor Andal Ampatuan Jr. who was flown from Sharif Aguak in Maguindanao to General Santos City early this morning.

“The national security adviser’s display of extreme silence on the mass murder of more than 57 civilians by the notorious Ampatuan warlord clan is something that should not be missed by the Filipino public. Perhaps he is planning something big in his mind and the declaration of the State of Emergency in Maguindanao is perhaps the beginning of any grand plan in favor of the present occupant in Malacanang,” the Pamalakaya official said in a press statement.

France said the proliferation of para-military groups and the arming of civilian volunteers for counter-insurgency and counter-terrorism in Maguindanao and other parts of Mindanao were the programs jointly discussed and approved by the Office of the President, the National Security Council of where Secretary Gonzalez is an influential member and the erstwhile defense chief Gilbert Teodoro.

“It appears to us that the Maguindanao massacre orchestrated by the powerful Ampatuan clan had the official blessing if not tacit approval of the national security mafia in Malacanang to justify the possible declaration of national state of emergency or even Martial Law across the country. Palace think tanks believe the situation could be exploited to justify the martial rule not only in Maguindanao but also across the country in not so distant future,” the Pamalakaya leader added.

The militant group asserted that aside from President Arroyo, Secretary Gonzalez and ex-defense chief Teodoro, previous defense secretaries and chiefs of the Armed Forces of the Philippines should be made to explain why they allowed the proliferation of CAFGUs, armed Civilian Volunteer Organizations (CVOs) and private armies in Maguindanao and have them enlisted and functioned as military and security personnel and private armies of the powerful Ampatuan warlord clan in Maguindanao.

“Mrs. Arroyo and her company cannot escape responsibility for turning the Ampatuan clan into a political monster in Maguindanao in exchange for the Ampatuans political support for the administration in the 2004 and 2007 national elections,” said Pamalakaya. #

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