Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Gibo dares Ampatuan lawyer: Sue me over weapons fiasco

01/25/2010 | 09:08 PM

Administration presidential bet Gilberto Teodoro Jr. on Monday dared the lawyer of the Ampatuan family to charge him in court over his alleged involvement in the proliferation of loose firearms in Maguindanao province.

“I am daring him to file charges against me in court. And he better present strong documentary and physical evidence to back up his allegations," said Teodoro, a former Defense secretary.

Teodoro reiterated that the accusation hurled against him by lawyer Philip Pantojan was baseless.

Pantojan had earlier said that Teodoro should be charged for allegedly having a hand in the arming of the Ampatuan political dynasty.

The Ampatuans, some of whom occupy key local government positions in Maguindanao, are implicated in the Nov. 23 massacre of at least 57 people in the town named after them.

Pantojan said it was under Teodoro’s watch as Defense chief that the Civilian Volunteers Organization (CVOs), which reportedly comprised the Ampatuans’ private army, was armed by the national government.

GMANews.TV sought Pantojan's side on Teodoro's challenge but the lawyer declined to comment on the issue.

During the eight-day imposition of martial law in Maguindanao early December, security forces seized around 1,500 pieces of high-powered rifles, machine guns, mortars, and assorted weaponry near and inside some of the Amptuans’ properties.

In a vacant lot in Barangay Poblacion Tres in Shariff Aguak, the recovered weapons bore the markings “Department of Defense (DND) Arsenal" and “Arms Corporation of the Philippines."

Teodoro said the Defense Department has no policy for the issuance of weapons to civilian armed groups.

“It is clear that the Defense Department has no operational control over the distribution of firearms and ammunition to the units of the Armed Forces of the Philippines," Teodoro stressed.

The military is currently conducting an investigation on the alleged pilferage of firearms and ammunition. - KBK, GMANews.TV

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