Philippines: The Perils Of Private Wars


August 13, 2010: The army has admitted that the Ampatuan clan in the south was armed by the military, in order to gain the help of the Ampatuans in fighting Moslem separatists (MILF).  This sort of support was not a secret, but it was not publicized by the government. It's a big deal now  because the Ampatuans had used those weapons against local political rivals. The Ampatuan clan lost  elections last year in Maguindanao province. Esmael Mangudadatu, the head of a rival clan won, largely because of a massacre of his kin, followers and journalists by Ampatuan gunmen last November. The newly elected Maguindanao governor lost his wife and two sisters in the massacre (that killed 54 other people as well.) Government efforts to prosecute Ampatuans for the killings have been moving slowly. A judge accused the Ampatuans of trying to bribe witnesses, an effort that did not succeed. The Ampatuans apparently had some friends inside the government, who helped broker the bribery attempt. Now the Ampatuans are seeking to murder witnesses. So the fact that the Ampatuans are doing this with some of 1,444 army rifles and pistols, does not go down well. Some of these weapons ended up in the hands of criminals and Moslem rebels. The new owners had a lot of cash, and the previous owners needed some money.  Meanwhile, police continue searching for more of the dozens of Ampatuan gunmen identified as participating in last November's massacre. Rewards are being offered for information, and that is yielding results. Meanwhile, it appears that kin of some of the victims are also hunting the Ampatuan gunmen, and trying to kill them.

August 9, 2010: Over the weekend, two MILF militias backed different clans in a battle over real estate ownership. There were dozens of casualties and several thousand civilians fled their homes.

August 5, 2010: In the south, a bomb went off in an airport, killing two (including the guy carrying the bomb) and wounding more than twenty. At first it was believed to be a terrorist act, but investigators found that it was an assassination attempt against a provincial official (by a political rival). Turned out the guy carrying the bomb was not a suicide bomber, but a hired (and somewhat inept) killer on his way to plant the bomb. The police were soon seeking two local politicians, to ask them a few questions.






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