Philippine troops arrest dozens under martial law

Philippine troops arrested 62 people and discovered another major weapons cache today after martial law was imposed in a southern province following the country's worst political massacre.

Thousands of troops, backed by tanks and warplanes, have taken control of Maguindanao province in a government crackdown on the powerful Ampatuan clan, accused in the 23 November killing of 57 people travelling in a convoy of a political rival. The clan has denied involvement.

Late Friday, President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo imposed martial law in Maguindanao — the first use of martial law in the Philippines since late dictator Ferdinand Marcos imposed it nationwide more than 30 years ago. The move was announced on national television Saturday morning.

The government says it feared the Ampatuans, who have ruled unopposed with an iron fist over predominantly Muslim Maguindanao for years, were fomenting rebellion in response to the crackdown on them since the massacre.

Those arrested so far include the clan's patriarch, at least six other family members, and clan followers, national police Chief Jesus Verzosa said.

Thirty-nine high-powered firearms and crates of ammunition were dug up Sunday at a farm believed owned by the Ampatuans near the provincial capital of Shariff Aguak, army Brig. Gen. Gaudencio Pangilinan said.

Army troops and police were pursuing about 4,000 armed followers of the Ampatuans, some reportedly massing in eight Maguindanao towns. Security forces have sealed off Maguindanao's exit points and mounted checkpoints, said police Director Andres Caro.

Pangilinan told reporters Ampatuan's followers were capable of carrying out bombings, arson attacks and abductions.

Fearing violence, some residents have fled towns in Maguindanao, about 545 miles (880 kilometers) south of Manila. Heavily armed troops manned checkpoints and frisked motorists along the main highway that cuts through farmland, hills and marshland in the province.

The martial law proclamation allows troops to make arrests without court warrants.

"I advise you to stay put and be calm or go about your daily chores," regional military commander Lt. Gen. Raymundo Ferrer said. "Only those having to do with the massacre will be arrested and their houses searched."

Pro-democracy advocates have accused Arroyo of overreacting. A group of human rights lawyers has argued there are insufficient grounds for martial law and plan to challenge it in the Supreme Court on Monday.

Government and military officials defended Arroyo, saying she acted decisively to bring suspects into custody and head off a rebellion by the Ampatuan clan.

The Ampatuans are notorious for running a large private army. They helped Arroyo win crucial votes from Maguindanao during 2004 elections, but her party expelled the clan after the massacre.

Among the family members now being held, Andal Ampatuan Sr., a three-term provincial governor, and his son Zaldy — governor of the Autonomous Region in Mindanao, which includes Maguindanao — were taken into military custody early Saturday, Ibrado said. Two other sons were also detained.

Another son, Andal Jr., surrendered and was charged last week with multiple counts of murder.

Some 30 journalists were among the dead, making it the deadliest single attack on the press anywhere in the world.

Suggested Topics
News
More than 90 years of car history are coming to an end with the abolition of the paper car-tax disc
newsThis and other facts you never knew about the paper circle - completely obsolete tomorrow
News
people'I’d rather have Fred and Rose West quote my characters on childcare'
News
Kim Jong Un gives field guidance during his inspection of the Korean People's Army (KPA) Naval Unit 167
newsSouth Korean reports suggest rumours of a coup were unfounded
Arts and Entertainment
You could be in the Glastonbury crowd next summer if you follow our tips for bagging tickets this week
music
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Arts and Entertainment
Kylie performs during her Kiss Me Once tour
musicReview: 26 years on from her first single, the pop princess tries just a bit too hard at London's O2
Voices
The erotic novel Fifty Shades of Grey has already been blamed for a rise in the number of callouts to the fire brigade for people trapped in handcuffs
voicesJustine Elyot: Since Fifty Shades there's no need to be secretive about it — everyone's at it
Life and Style
Moves to regulate e-cigarettes and similar products as medicines come amid increasing evidence of their effectiveness
healthHuge anti-smoking campaign kicks off on Wednesday
News
Piers Morgan tells Scots they might not have to suffer living on the same island as him if they vote ‘No’ to Scottish Independence
peopleBroadcaster has a new role bringing 'the big stories that matter' to US
Arts and Entertainment
A new Banksy entitled 'Art Buff' has appeared in Folkestone, Kent
art
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Senior Marketing Manager - Central London - £50,000

£40000 - £50000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Marketing Manager (Campaigns, Offlin...

Head of Marketing - Acquisition & Direct Reponse Marketing

£90000 - £135000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Head of Marketing (B2C, Acquisition...

1st Line Service Desk Analyst

£27000 - £30000 Per Annum: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: Our client who are...

Trainee Recruitment Consultant - Birmingham - Huxley Associates

£18000 - £23000 per annum + Commission: SThree: Huxley Associates are currentl...

Day In a Page

Isis is an hour from Baghdad, the Iraq army has little chance against it, and air strikes won't help

Isis an hour away from Baghdad -

and with no sign of Iraq army being able to make a successful counter-attack
Turner Prize 2014 is frustratingly timid

Turner Prize 2014 is frustratingly timid

The exhibition nods to rich and potentially brilliant ideas, but steps back
Last chance to see: Half the world’s animals have disappeared over the last 40 years

Last chance to see...

The Earth’s animal wildlife population has halved in 40 years
So here's why teenagers are always grumpy - and it's not what you think

Truth behind teens' grumpiness

Early school hours mess with their biological clocks
Why can no one stop hackers putting celebrities' private photos online?

Hacked photos: the third wave

Why can no one stop hackers putting celebrities' private photos online?
Royal Ballet star dubbed 'Charlize Theron in pointe shoes' takes on Manon

Homegrown ballerina is on the rise

Royal Ballet star Melissa Hamilton is about to tackle the role of Manon
Education, eduction, education? Our growing fascination with what really goes on in school

Education, education, education

TV documentaries filmed in classrooms are now a genre in their own right
It’s reasonable to negotiate with the likes of Isis, so why don’t we do it and save lives?

It’s perfectly reasonable to negotiate with villains like Isis

So why don’t we do it and save some lives?
This man just ran a marathon in under 2 hours 3 minutes. Is a 2-hour race in sight?

Is a sub-2-hour race now within sight?

Dennis Kimetto breaks marathon record
We shall not be moved, say Stratford's single parents fighting eviction

Inside the E15 'occupation'

We shall not be moved, say Stratford single parents
Air strikes alone will fail to stop Isis

Air strikes alone will fail to stop Isis

Talks between all touched by the crisis in Syria and Iraq can achieve as much as the Tornadoes, says Patrick Cockburn
Nadhim Zahawi: From a refugee on welfare to the heart of No 10

Nadhim Zahawi: From a refugee on welfare to the heart of No 10

The Tory MP speaks for the first time about the devastating effect of his father's bankruptcy
Witches: A history of misogyny

Witches: A history of misogyny

The sexist abuse that haunts modern life is nothing new: women have been 'trolled' in art for 500 years
Shona Rhimes interview: Meet the most powerful woman in US television

Meet the most powerful woman in US television

Writer and producer of shows like Grey's Anatomy, Shonda Rhimes now has her own evening of primetime TV – but she’s taking it in her stride
'Before They Pass Away': Endangered communities photographed 'like Kate Moss'

Endangered communities photographed 'like Kate Moss'

Jimmy Nelson travelled the world to photograph 35 threatened tribes in an unashamedly glamorous style