Feared Ampatuan clan outgunned Philippine military—WikiLeaks


MANILA, Philippines—The 2,000-strong private army of a powerful clan suspected of carrying out the Philippines’ worst political massacre was better armed than the military and police, leaked US embassy cables showed.

The cables from late 2009, released by anti-secrecy website WikiLeaks, described the reach of the feared Ampatuan clan in the southern region of Mindanao and said it had authorities on the run.

Key members of the clan and its private army are now being tried for the murder of 57 people in Mindanao in 2009 but many of the accused are still at large, making witnesses reluctant to come forward.

“We estimate that the Ampatuan clan maintains a private army of up to 2,000 men – who are often better armed and equipped than their (police) and (military) counterparts,” an embassy cable said.

“Government officials were astonished by the size of the arms caches and the power of the weaponry” that was later recovered from the Ampatuans, another cable said.

However, the files also said the government had turned a “blind eye” to such private armies because they helped in the fight against Muslim insurgents.

“They are often politically allied with the President,” one cable added, referring to then-president Gloria Arroyo.

The Ampatuans were allies of Arroyo but she disowned them after they were linked to the murder of 57 political rivals, lawyers and journalists in a bid to prevent a rival from challenging them in elections in 2010.

The embassy also noted that Arroyo had to impose martial law in the affected area in order to arrest the suspects, disarm the Ampatuans and restore order.

“There are many areas in the Philippines… where armed groups have proliferated and the national authorities have a very limited capability to impose order,” the secret documents warned.

Although many key members of the Ampatuan clan have been arrested, victims’ relatives have expressed concern that, in the Philippines’ notoriously overburdened justice system, the trial could take years to complete.

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  • Rex

    Of course…politicians with private armies always side or allied whoever sits in Malacanang. But this doesn’t mean that the sitting president will sanction their wrongdoings especially killings innocent civilian. Even when the time of Cory admin…Ampatuan clan were allied with the government.

    • ChameleonO

      The government is the source of unlimited funds of the Ampatuan clan. That is why they are all in the government.

  • Anonymous

    We should all hang our heads in collective shame. That one family is allowed to behave like a feudal warlord in a small part of a democratic republic that supposedly swears by the rule of law has got to be the pits. To added insult to injury, the armed forces is made to look like a bunch of wimps.

    • Rene V

       well, this thing happened in somebody else’ watch. let’s hope the present leadership upholds the rule of law and upgrades both internal and external security. defense improvements might look piecemeal given our financial condition but i think something is being done.

  • ChameleonO

    This might also be the reason why the military are not taking action against the violent and murderous Unbra Kato group. The pictures of the BIFF displayed arms not available in the armed forces of the Philippines. What now? There is P39B for dole-outs but none to upgrade the military war capabilities?

  • Anonymous

    Spare the rod and spoil the brat!  Gloria merely parented those brats in Mindanao and they got spoiled to the extent they played god on the life and limbs of those who dared to oppose them!  The results are now politically fought in the halls of justice where the cogs frequently break down and grind sooooo ssssllllooowwwllllyyyy!

  • Pat Bello

    Its not just the ampatuans. look at chavit singson in ilocos right now and the dutuertes in davao. Even benigno “ninoy” aquino during his time in tarlac was also a guns and goons type of politician. We should admit it that we prefer adoring politicians this way. Proud to be pinoy eh?

  • Anonymous

    The previous administration has created and has been nurturing (funding/arming) a being which later turned out to be Frankenstein.  Now that their pet monster misbehaved and grew  a mind of its own, they simply disowned it.  How convenient is that!!!.  The makers are as as guilty as Frankpatuans  They shouldnt act surprised for ITS ill deeds because they to have a hand in it.

  • Anonymous

    what’s the use of high powered guns to people who generally do not know how to use them? they do not even know where will they get the bullets after they run out of supply. they do not know how to keep in good conditions those high powered guns.

  • Anonymous

    This goes to show how GMA’s administration would do just to protect their interest. From manipulating the election return to arming a ruthless landlord. Unfortunately, things went out of control. Had that incident escaped the Media’s attention, hundreds more will die unnoticed.  

    • Jao Romero

      warlord po hindi landlord.

  • mrtn

    Syempre, alam ng mga nag-armas sa AFP kung sino ang mas malakas sa kanila….eh ngayon,parang tanga AFP sa denial nila! ahahhhahhahah

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