President Benigno S. Aquino III instructed newly-appointed Department of Interior and Local Government Secretary Manuel A. Roxas II to continue dismantling private armed groups in the Philippines as the country prepares for the 2013 midterm elections.
In a regular press briefing in Malacanang on Tuesday, Deputy Presidential Spokesperson Abigail Valte said the DILG, even during the supervision of the late Secretary Jesse Robredo, has been carrying out a campaign to disband private armed groups in the country.
“Early this year, ang napag-usapan diyan ay merong 80 armed groups, halos nangalahati na ang mga na-dismantle na private armies. In fact, kasama din ‘yan doon sa mga marching orders kay incoming DILG Secretary Mar Roxas na ituloy ang pagdi-dismantle sa mga private armies na ‘yan,” Valte told Palace reporters.
Amnesty International has urged the government to revoke Executive Order 546 which, it said, allowed private militias to operate since 2006.
But Valte clarified that EO 564, signed by former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, doesn’t explicitly allow local government officials or politicians to have their own private militias.
Amnesty International had earlier noted that the government must immediately prohibit and disband private armies and paramilitary forces responsible for election-related attacks particularly in the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao.