Friday, November 27, 2009

Massacre in Maguindanao Points to Mayor Ampatuan

By Jocelyn Uy
Philippine Daily Inquirer

A government team tasked to investigate the slaughter of 57 people in Maguindanao is quietly obtaining depositions from witnesses that appear to point to Andal Ampatuan Jr. as prime suspect, officials said.

Interior Secretary Ronaldo Puno also disclosed in a briefing at Camp Crame that aside from Ampatuan, four police officials had been placed under "restrictive custody" in connection withMonday's massacre.

They were Senior Supt. Agusana Maguid, acting police director of the Maguindanao police office; Chief Insp. Sukarno Dicay, acting deputy provincial police director; Senior Police Officer 2 Badawi Bakal, officer in charge of the Datu Ampatuan police station; and Senior Insp. Ariel Diongon, officer in charge of the provincial mobile group.

Puno said the four policemen, who were airlifted to Manila via a commercial flight, had been identified by witnesses as among those who were present at the scene of the massacre.

Two other police officials—Insp. Armando Mariga and Insp. Saudi Mokamad, also of the provincial mobile group—are also suspected of having participated in the killings. Both have been issued administrative relief.

Military Not Suspects in Mindanao Massacre

By Katherine Evangelista

Two ranking military officials have been relieved from their posts in Maguindanao to give way to "impartial and transparent investigations" on the gruesome murders Monday of at least 57 people in the province, the Philippine military said.

In a press briefing, Armed Forces of the Philippines spokesman Lieutenant Colonel Romeo Brawner, Jr. said that 6th Infantry Division Commander Major General Alfredo Cayton and 601st Infantry Brigade Commander Colonel Medardo Geslani were relieved of duty effective Friday.

The order was made following complaints of alleged "inefficiency and inaction" in *handling the Maguindanao carnage*, Brawner said, even as he added the two were not suspects in the mass murders.

"Definitely, they are not suspects," he told reporters.

Brawner said the investigation on Cayton and Geslani, to be conducted by the Inspector General at the AFP general headquarters in Manila, would soon begin.

At least 57 people, including relatives and supporters of Buluan Vice-Mayor and Maguindanao gubernatorial aspirant Esmael Mangudadatu, and members of the media, were waylaid and killed in a gruesome massacre that sent shock waves across the world.

Maguindanao Massacre: Ampatuan Feared and Loathed

Phil Daily Inquirer: Feared and loathed by his enemies, Andal Ampatuan Jr. is known as the "hatchet man" of a powerful Muslim clan in Mindanao whose family history is written in blood.

A chubby, stone-faced man in his 40s with a penchant for expensive guns, he is the son and namesake of the clan patriarch who has ruled as governor of Maguindanao province for most of this decade.

Ampatuan Jr. denies any role in this week's massacre of 57 people in Maguindanao who were allegedly targeted to end a political challenge from a rival clan.

But Ampatuan Jr. and his father have long had reputations for using fear and violence to stifle opponents and expand their power, according to the country's top human rights officials and others who have knowledge about the family.

"The Maguindanao political warlords are really the ones giving crucial or swing votes to administration candidates," Leila de Lima, chair of the Commission on Human Rights, told Agence France-Presse.

She said the Ampatuan family "act like Gods" in Maguindanao.

De Lima is a former election lawyer who once represented an official who lost to an Ampatuan family member in the 2007 congressional vote allegedly through fraud.

Protest March Against Maguindanao Massacre

Daan-daang katao na kinabibilangan ng local media, mag-aaral, empleyado at kamag-anak ng mga nasawing media practitioners ang nagsindi ng kandila sa Koronadal City roundaball pagkatapos ng Candlelight March mula sa compound ng Provincial Capitol.

Nakisabay rin sa Protest March ang mga kagawad ng national media na kasalukuyang nasa Koronadal City upang mangalap ng impormasyon hinggil sa kahindik-hindik na insidente ng pamamaslang sa mga kagawad ng media, sibilyan at mga kamag-anak ng Mangudadatu ng ng bayan ng Buluan sa Maguindanao.

Naging madamdamin ang pagbibigay ng pananalita ng mga kagawad ng local media kasabay ng pagkondena sa karumal-dumal na krimen at panawagan sa pamahalaan ng katarungan para sa mga pamilya ng mga nabiktima ng tinaguriang Maguindanao Massacre na kumitil sa buhay ng mahigit limampu't pitong buhay.

Sa pamamagitan ng South Cotabato Provincial Information Office, nagbigay na rin ng tulong si governor Daisy Avance-Fuentes sa mga naulilang pamilya ng mga biktima.