ASEAN KEY DESTINATIONS
Aquino says militias to stay in Philippines
The president added that the government did not have enough money to rely solely on overstretched regular military and police forces to fight insurgencies, and as such had to use the cheaper alternative of state-backed paramilitary forces, which are also known as civilian volunteer organizations (CVOs) or Citizens Armed Forces Geographical Unit (Cafgu).
"If you hire more people [in the military and police], you increase the pension obligations that we obviously cannot support," he told a news conference during the first-year anniversary of the massacre of 57 people, including at least 31 journalists, in Maguindanao in southern Mindanao.
"In the interim, each community has a right to protect itself, especially those in far-flung areas, and the key to that are these Cafgus," Mr. Aquino said.
But conceding that there have been complaints over alleged abuses by the paramilitary forces, which total 50,000 people, he pledged stricter military and police supervision over them.
The paramilitaries are armed and given minimal training by the military, but are usually placed under the control of local government executives in remote areas where the state is fighting communist or Muslim separatist rebels.
Nearly 200 people, many of them paramilitaries under the effective command of a Muslim political clan, are accused of murdering 57 civilians in the insurgency-troubled Maguindanao a year ago on Tuesday.
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