Arroyo biggest arms supplier of warlords: Casiño

ABS-CBN News

Posted at Dec 04 2009 10:56 AM | Updated as of Dec 04 2009 06:56 PM

MANILA - A party-list representative on Friday accused the government of being the biggest arms supplier of warlords after the discovery of a large arms cache near the mansion of Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) Gov. Zaldy Ampatuan Jr. on Thursday.

"The arms cache found near the Ampatuans' mansion confirms that the government, particularly the AFP (Armed Forces of the Philippines), is the biggest arms supplier of the country's warlords," Bayan Muna Rep. Teodoro Casiño said in a text message.

Casiño also blamed President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo for tolerating the alleged “warlordism" of the Ampatuans in Maguindanao.

He said the supply of firearms to the Ampatuans is the reason why the powerful political clan "always supports administration candidates."

"This is why they are untouchable even by the military and police. This has clearly gotten worse under the Arroyo presidency," Casiño said.

Security forces on Thursday night unearthed high powered-firearms and thousands of ammunition from a vacant lot near the ARMM governor's mansion in Shariff Aguak.

Authorities said that a tipster told them the arms cache were buried on the night of November 25, two days after Datu Unsay town Mayor Andal Ampatuan Jr. and at least 100 gunmen allegedly massacred 57 people in Ampatuan town.

Ampatuan Jr. has been charged with 25 counts of murder for the massacre.

Lt. Col. Romeo Brawner, military spokesman, told ABS-CBN News that they already have circumstantial evidence that the arms cache belongs to the Ampatuan family.

"That is to be proven in court," Brawner said.

He said the most critical information gathered during the arms cache's discovery was the "DND" markings of the ammunition boxes.

News footage showed that ammunition boxes found at the vacant lot were marked "Government arsenal DND" and "Philippine National Police Camp Crame, Quezon City, Philippines."

Brawner said Armed Forces chief of staff Gen. Victor ibrado has already ordered an investigation to determine how the military ammunition found its way into the vacant lot.

"We will look deep into our records," the military spokesperson said. -- Report from RG Cruz, ABS-CBN News