MANILA, Philippines -- Now that Datu Unsay Mayor Andal Ampatuan Jr. has been taken into custody, the Philippine National Police faces the daunting task of building up cases against close to 400 armed bodyguards of his father, Maguindanao Governor Andal Ampatuan Sr.
The authorities led by the military have disarmed 347 members of the Special Active Auxiliary (SCAA) of the Civilian Armed Forces Geographical Unit (CAFGU) under the employ of the Maguindanao provincial government, and seized their government-issued firearms.
?All security people are also possible suspects,'' Director Andres Caro, Philippine National Police director for operations, said in a Malacañang briefing. ?We are investigating them. More or less it will total about 400, including cops and families.''
The Ampatuans had been allowed to keep an army of bodyguards for years now in view of threats posed by the secessionist Moro Islamic Liberation Front, officials had said.
?The AFP and the PNP are really sort of employing these multiplier forces. We don't have full forces with the vast archipelago,'' Caro said.
Andal Jr. turned himself in Thursday to Secretary Jesus Dureza three days after Monday's massacre of civilians in Ampatuan town in Maguindanao.
The military and police deployed big contingents of forces to seal off Maguindanao, keep close tabs on the movement of groups and maintain law and order in the aftermath of the massacre.
?This is the most complex case we had,'' Caro said.
In view of the massacre, the government would need to review whether to reactivate the SCAA, said Undersecretary Lorelei Fajardo, deputy presidential spokesperson.
``(We will) assess if there is a need for it,'' she said in the same briefing.
If reactivated, the members of this unit ``would have to be screened to prevent warlordism,'' Caro said. However, he said that the military and police had recommended to the Commission on Elections that only soldiers, policemen and agents of private detective agencies would be deputized as security detail of politicians in the May 2010 national elections.
``Only the members of AFP, PNP and other agencies shall be allowed to bear firearms,'' he said.