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Military launches ‘persuasion flights’ vs. Ampatuan supporters

12/08/2009 | 08:48 PM

Two OV-10 Bronco attack planes hovered on Tuesday over three areas in Maguindanao to urge civilian supporters of the Ampatuans to surrender, following the arrest of key members of the clan either as suspects in the November 23 massacre of 57 people in Ampatuan town.

Col. Leo Ferrer, 601st Infantry Brigade commander and current military governor of Maguindanao, said the military launched “persuasion flights" in the towns of Mamasapano, Rajah Buayan and Datu Piang as part of its crackdown on militiamen reportedly supporting the Ampatuan clan.

“This is to show these groups who still insist not to be disarmed that they will suffer the wrath of these bomber planes if the Armed Forces decides to launch a tactical offensive against them," he told reporters in Filipino.

Ferrer added that two other military helicopters dropped about 6,000 leaflets over the province to urge civilian volunteer organizations (CVOs) still loyal to the Ampatuans to turn themselves in to government forces.

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These leaflets, which where dropped over 15 villages in the province, read: “Sa mga police auxiliaries: Huwag na kayong magtago sa batas. Sumuko na kayo alang-alang sa katahimikan ng Maguindanao. (To police auxiliaries: Stop hiding from the law. Surrender now for the peace and order of Maguindanao.) "

The leaflets likewise contained a contact number where civilians can inform the military of the whereabouts of the CVOs. These numbers were flooded with messages minutes after the military finished dropping the leaflets, Ferrer explained.

“These leaflets urge CVOs to stop hiding to avoid violence and to facilitate the restoration of peace and order in Maguindanao," he said.

The military likewise made rounds in the province with megaphones and called for the immediate surrender of the Ampatuans’ militiamen.

“These leaflets urge CVOs to stop hiding to avoid violence and to facilitate the restoration of peace and order in Maguindanao," he said.

The province of Maguindanao except certain areas covered by a government agreement with the secessionist Moro Islamic Liberation Front has been under military rule since Friday night after President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, through Proclamation 1959, declared martial law over the area.

In a report to Congress, Arroyo cited the threat of "lawless elements" taking up arms and committed to launch public uprisings as one of the reasons why it placed the province under martial law. [See: 'Lawless elements have taken up arms:' Arroyo report to Congress on martial law declaration in Maguindanao] - Andreo C. Calonzo/JV, GMANews.TV


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