Ampatuan armory could shame AFP
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Ampatuan armory could shame AFP

THE arms cache of high-powered firearms and light artillery weapons found in Sharif Aguak in Maguindanao and believed to be owned by the beleaguered Ampatuan family could put to shame most elite infantry units in the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) or the special forces of Philippine National Police.

As of Thursday evening (December 3), elements from the military and the police said they found thousands of ammunitions still in crates and boxes marked as owned by the Philippine government.

Among those found were two 90mm recoilless rifles (RRs), one 57mm RR, three 60mm mortars, two 81mm mortars, one .50 caliber Barret rifle, one Ultimax rifle, one Bushmaster 5.56, two Browning Automatic Rifles (BAR), one Belgian FAL assault rifle, one AK-47 rifle, one HK11 machine pistol, one 5.56 M4 rifle on top of the over 400 assorted high powered firearms earlier confiscated by the police and military from members of the disbanded special civilian auxiliary army (SCAAs) that allegedly served as private bodyguards of the Ampatuans.

Police authorities and military forces also seized two improvised armored trucks believed to be owned by the Ampatuans.

Maj. Randolph Cabangbang, spokesman of the AFP’s Eastern Mindanao Command, said 140 boxes of 5.56 cal ammunitions were also found during the search at the safehouse where the arms cache were dumped.

The safe house has been linked to the Ampatuans, according to sources.

Images in Philippine televisions clearly showed the boxes and crates with Philippine government markings.

PNP scene of the crime operatives (SOCO) said they will subject the rifles seized to ballistics examinations to determine if some of them were used in the November 23 brutal mass murders at least 57 people, more than half of them journalists.

Ealier, police investigators said an M-16 Armalite rifle and a shotgun tested positive and ballistic examinations reportedly matched the some of the shells and slugs found in the massacre scene.

Two SCAA members who were carrying the said firearms are now in the custody of police authorities.  They are reportedly under the employ of the Ampatuans and one of them allegedly confessed to participating in the killings.