Ampatuan: What private army?
MANILA, Philippines — Former Maguindanao Governor Andal Ampatuan Sr. on Monday denied reports saying that his family’s private army participated in the killing of 44 police commandos in the province last January 25.
In a statement, the patriarch of the family accused in the massacre of 58 political opponents and journalists in Maguindanao in 2009 even denied that his family still had a private armed group (PAG).
An army general has told media that most of the members of Ampatuan’s armed group had joined the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF) and were among those who killed members of the police Special Action Force in the town of Mamasapano.
“The Ampatuans have been out of power for approximately five years, and their resources practically exhausted; therefore they do not have the influence and wherewithal to form and maintain private armed groups,” said Ferdinand Topacio, counsel of Ampatuan.
“Likewise, our client categorically tells us that the remnants of their followers in Maguindanao will never join ranks with the MILF, and thus, their participation in the firefight in Mamasapano, allegedly shoulder-to-shoulder with the MILF, is preposterous.”
“The Ampatuans will never be involved, directly or indirectly, in any activity that will result in the killing of government forces. On the contrary, they join the call for justice and truth in the killing of the 44 SAF troopers in Mamapasano,” Topacio added.
The lawyer said the linking of Ampatuan’s men to the Mamasapano massacre was another effort to “demonize” the clan’s name.
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