Press Release
March 23, 2010


Private armies of local politicians would be dismantled under an Aquino-Roxas administration, Liberal Party vice-presidential candidate Senator Mar Roxas vowed today.

Roxas promised: "Private armies will not be tolerated under our administration. We will not allow any uniformed men to work for warlords."

He said he and presidential running-mate LP standard-bearer Senator Noynoy Aquino would call for an accounting of all members of the Armed Forces and the National Police once they win the May 10 elections, and order the recall of any law enforcement agent in the employ of local politicians.

There would be no exemption, he stressed, adding even those soldiers and police officers under the employment of party mates and allies would be called back to general headquarters and given new assignments.

"Hindi natin papayagang magtuloy-tuloy itong sistema na ito. Nakita natin ang nangyari sa Maguindanao nang gamitin ng pamilya Ampatuan ang kanilang private army para sa dahilang pulitikal. Hihintayin pa ba nating mangyari ito sa ibhang lugar (We will not allow this to happen under our watch. We have seen already what happened in Maguindanao when the Ampatuan clan was allowed to have their own private army. Should we wait for it to happen anywhere else)?" Roxas asked.

The private army of the powerful Ampatuan clan of Maguindanao was said to have carried out the dastardly murder of 57 innocent civilians on the order of ARMM Gov. Zaldy Ampatuan. The massacre incident has exposed the evils of local politicians using members of the AFP and the PNP for their personal political and security reasons.

In Pangasinan, the police identified recently at least six private armies in Lingayen, Pangasinan and five others in the rest of the Ilocos region. The private armies were tagged in the towns of Bolinao, San Nicolas, San Manuel, Infanta and Umingan.

Among those tagged as allegedly maintaining private armies were first district Rep. Arthur Celeste and his two brothers, who hail from Bolinao town. Rep. Celeste, who is now on his third and last term, is running for mayor of Alaminos City. His brother, Bolinao Mayor Alfonso Celeste, is seeking re-election, while another brother, former mayor Jesus Celeste, is running for congressman.

The PNP leadership in Manila has formed a special task group to monitor the activities of some 23 suspected private army members. Four have so far been neutralized through search warrants and checkpoints.

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