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Maguindanao massacre claims at least 36 lives

  
Philippines News Talk Thread, Maguindanao massacre claims at least 36 lives in News, Politics, Business and Investment; 11/23/09 They belonged to the rival Mangudadatu clan, but since they were women accompanied by a media delegation, they believed ...
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Old 11-24-2009, 01:28 AM
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Default Maguindanao massacre claims at least 36 lives

11/23/09

They belonged to the rival Mangudadatu clan, but since they were women accompanied by a media delegation, they believed they were safe, protected by the Koranic prescription to spare women.

No one could have predicted the ruthlessness that met them.

At least 36 people, mostly identified with Buluan, Maguindanao vice mayor Datu Ismail "Toto" Mangudadatu and including a dozen media people, were abducted and later killed on Monday by gunmen allegedly led by members of the Ampatuan political clan.

Toto's wife, Genalyn Tiamzon-Mangudadatu, was among those killed, according to Toto himself.

Madaser Mangudadato, Toto's brother and assemblyman in the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM), said some of the victims were beheaded.

Even in the annals of political violence in the Philippines, this incident may have no equal in its brutality and in number of lives taken. The Plaza Miranda bombing in 1971 killed nine at a rally of the Liberal Party.

Source: GMANews
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Old 11-24-2009, 01:33 AM
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Default Arroyo: Hunt down Maguindanao massacre killers

abs-cbnNEWS.com | 11/23/2009 10:11 PM
MANILA - President Arroyo on Monday ordered the military and police to immediately pursue the perpetrators of the gruesome massacre in Maguindanao province related to the May 2010 elections.

In a statement, Arroyo directed the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP), through acting National Defense Secretary Norberto Gonzales, and the police, through Secretary of Interior and Local Government Ronaldo Puno, to order their units to "conduct immediate and relentless pursuit of the perpetrators, to secure the affected areas.”

Bodies of 21 of 44 kidnap victims, including the wife and relatives of Buluan town's vice mayor, who is a gubernatorial aspirant in Maguindanao province, were recovered by troops of the Army’s 601st Infantry Brigade in Ampatuan town in Maguindanao province Monday afternoon, according to AFP spokesman Lt. Co. Romeo Brawner Jr..

The bodies were recovered in Sitio Masalay, Barangay Salman in Ampatuan town.

Brawner said the military believes there are more bodies buried that have yet to be recovered. The bodies have not yet been identified. Some of the corpses reportedly showed "signs of mutilation."

Buluan vice mayor Ismael "Toto" Mangudadatu told ANC that his wife, Genalyn, his sister, and some relatives were on their way to file a certificate of candidacy for governor of Maguindanao province on his behalf when a group of about 100 armed men abducted them.

The killings are the first major poll-related violence in the May 2010 elections, which are still 6 months away. Most of the victims are women.
Mangudadatu believes the abduction was politically motivated. He said his wife called him at around 9:30 in the morning to say an armed group, supposedly of the Ampatuan clan, a political rival, flagged down their convoy on their way to Shariff Aguak town, where the election office of the province is located.

Mangudadatu said that aside from his wife and relatives, also included in the convoy were lawyers and members of media, who were supposed to cover the filing of the COC.

“Hold perpetrators accountable”

President Arroyo ordered Gonzales and Lt. Gen. Rodrigo Maclang, acting AFP Chief of Staff, to proceed to Maguindanao on Tuesday “to personally oversee military action against the perpetrators of these dastardly acts.”

“No effort will be spared to bring justice to the victims and hold the perpetrators accountable to the full limit of the law,” said President Arroyo.

Maclang ordered the establishment of checkpoints and chokepoints, with elements of Army’s 601st Infantry Brigade already in place to preserve peace in the area, in compliance with the President’s directives. Additional troops were ordered deployed to further secure the area.

President Arroyo also condemned “in the strongest terms the violence in Maguindanao.”

She was reported to have said that “civilized society has no place for this kind of violence” as she assured that the rule of law will be restored in the area and the lawless elements neutralized.

Meanwhile, Philippine National Police (PNP) chief director-general Jesus Verzosa said that a joint police and military task force led by Maj. Gen Alfredo Cayton, Army 6th Infantry Division commanding general, was immediately formed. The task force would include police and Army units in the region.

The task force was ordered to “conduct hot pursuit operations against all perpetrators responsible for the incident, recover remaining hostages and thoroughly and immediately investigate the incident.”

Arroyo allies

The pursuit operations may encounter difficulties since initial reports by the military said that those involved allegedly included Maguindanao’s powerful Ampatuan clan. The Ampatuans are staunch allies of the Arroyo administration.

In a separate report, Brawner said the abductors allegedly included members of the Maguindanao provincial police, police volunteers, and government militiamen. He said they were led by the mayor of Datu Unsay town, Andal Ampatuan Jr., and one Senior Inspector Dicay of the Sharif Aguak town’s police.

Brawner also said the victims were later brought near a camp of the Tornado Command of the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) at Barangay Salman village, where the Army’s 601st Brigade recovered the bodies, along with their vehicles, at around 4:30 p.m.

Madasser Mangudadato, a member of the ARMM-Regional Legislative Assembly and brother of Esmael Mangudadatu, had also pointed to the alleged involvement of the head of the Ampatuan clan.

“They were all abducted by the armed men, and accordingly, allegedly, it was ordered by the old man (Maguindanao governor Andal Sr.) and Andal Jr. ...The abductors are Andal Ampatuan Sr. and Andal Ampatuan Jr., The ground commander is Andal Ampatuan Jr., together with Manerin Ampatuan,” he said.

He said that while in the custody of the armed men, Madasser said Ismael’s wife was able to call her husband.

“Tumawag sa husband niya, sabi niya ‘Pang, hinuli na kami ng mga armadong lalaki, hinuli kami ng mga armadong lalaki at pinagsasampal kami at ipinakain sa akin ang COC. Sinasaktan na kami’, that was the last word and the parting words of the wife,” he said.

Asked why the Ampatuans would commit such a crime, Madasser said the Ampatuans were scared of losing in the gubernatorial elections.
“It's all politics, politically-motivated, whatever it is, and it led to the massacre,” said Madasser.

State of emergency proposed

Meanwhile, Presidential Adviser for Mindanao Secretary Jesus Dureza condemned the abduction and killings.

"This is a gruesome massacre of civilians unequalled in recent history. Even women and working mediamen were not spared. I grieve for my friends in the media and all those killed while doing their job,” said Dureza in a text message.

Dureza called for a stop to violence but also recommended “that a state of emergency be imposed in the area and everyone be disarmed. Anything less will not work."
as of 11/24/2009 1:05 AM
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Old 11-25-2009, 02:05 AM
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Default Maguindanao massacre death toll rises to 46—police

Maguindanao massacre death toll rises to 46—police
By Marlon Ramos
Agence France-Presse, Philippine Daily Inquirer
First Posted 08:16:00 11/24/2009

MAGUINDANAO, Philippines—(UPDATE 6) Bullet-ridden bodies were pulled out from shallow graves on Tuesday as troops hunted down the gunmen who massacred, according to the Philippine National Police, at least 46 people in one of the Philippines' most brutal explosions of political violence.

Police on Mindanao island pulled bullet-ridden bodies from shallow graves in this remote farming area after gunmen allegedly employed by a local political chief abducted then shot dead a group of rival politicians and journalists.

“Some bodies were strewn on the ground. Most were recovered from under lumps of earth which were stained with blood,” said Chief Superintendent Josefino Cataluna, the regional police commander.

"They were piled on top of each other. It looked as if they were buried hurriedly," said Cataluna.

Twenty-two bodies had previously been found beside a dirt road nearby following Monday's killings by gunmen allegedly linked to the area's political kingpin.

The group abducted associates of a rival politician and at least 20 journalists from General Santos City and nearby provinces who were covering them.

“But we have yet to finalize our tally as we are still talking with the relatives of the victims,” Cataluna said.

Chief Superintendent Leonardo Espina, PNP spokesman, said the bodies would be taken to Buluan town, Maguindanao province, after the police have conducted an autopsy on the bodies and conferred with the victims’ relatives.

Most of the victims bore gunshot wounds, Espina said.

National police chief Jesus Verzosa, who flew to the south to supervise the investigation, said he feared the death toll could rise with several other members of the kidnapped party of more than 40 people still missing.

"We still have to check one other suspected mass grave," he added.

"We expect more bodies from other areas," Cataluna said.

Journalists on the scene said a mechanical digger was emblazoned with the name of the Maguindanao provincial governor, Andal Ampatuan, whose bodyguards had been blamed by the military as being behind the massacre.

The victims were among a group of more than 40 people abducted by gunmen Monday linked to Maguindanao Governor Andal Ampatuan, head of a Muslim clan who is part of President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo's ruling coalition.

The abducted group was made up of relatives and associates of Esmael Mangudadatu, the head of a rival Muslim clan in Maguindanao, plus a group of journalists, the military and police said.

The group was traveling in a convoy to accompany or report on Mangudadatu's wife as she went to an electoral office to register her husband to run for governor against Ampatuan's son in next year's national polls.

Authorities warned the death toll would climb higher as they sought to deal with the incident.

"It's a big area where these bodies were found. They are finding a couple of bodies every a couple of hours or so," Interior Secretary Ronaldo Puno said as he described a farming area covered in hastily dug graves.

Puno said the extra bodies being recovered were on top of the the official death toll, but he would not speculate on how many people in total had been murdered.

"They are still looking for some missing persons. A number of other bodies were found. I can't really reveal the details now. It's a large number," Puno said in a television interview.

Espina said Verzosa and other senior police officials flew to Maguindanao early Tuesday to personally check on the area and supervise the manhunt against the perpetrators of the killings.

He said Verzosa ordered the relief of Chief Inspector Sukarno Dicay, the deputy provincial police chief of Maguindanao, after he was supposedly seen with the armed men who abducted and killed the victims.

Additional police troops were also deployed in the area to prevent a possible rise of hostilities in the area.

Political violence is common in the Philippines – where more than one million unlicensed guns proliferate – and dozens of people are murdered each election season.

But the scale of Monday's massacre, as well as the targeting of apparently unrelated people, has shocked the country.

Fourteen of the victims were women and some of them were journalists with no apparent links to the clan war, the police and military said.

Military spokesman Lieutenant-Colonel Romeo Brawner said the Ampatuans and their associates were believed to have been responsible for the massacre.

"The suspects are bodyguards of Ampatuan, local police aides and certain lawless elements," Brawner said.

As thousands of soldiers fanned out across the Ampatuans' stronghold in search of the gunmen on Tuesday, sickening details of the massacre emerged.

The military said about 100 armed men stopped the convoy of vehicles on a remote section of highway near the town of Ampatuan, which bears the same name as the political kingpin.

Police said the bodies of the victims were found a few kilometers (miles) away, with a bulldozer apparently used to dig the graves still on the scene.

Police said 15 of the victims appeared to have been shot inside their vehicles while one was believed to have been cut down by gunfire while fleeing.

"All were shot at close range," said one of the investigators on the scene, Chief Superintendent Felicisimo Khu.

Asked about the allegations by some of the victims' relatives that the murdered women were also raped, Khu said: "We cannot confirm that although all the women had their pants unzipped."

The Ampatuan clan is the longtime political kingpin of Maguindanao, a mainly Muslim section of Mindanao Island which has been wracked by a Muslim separatist rebellion for decades.

The Ampatuan patriarch, Andal Ampatuan Sr., has been governor for the past nine years and wants his son and namesake to succeed him.

The Ampatuan clan has been important in delivering votes to Arroyo's ruling Lakas Kampi-CMD coalition in recent elections. The Ampatuan father is the provincial chair of the coalition in Maguindanao.

Puno vowed the government would be impartial as it pursued justice.

"I just want to assure everybody that we are doing everything necessary here, that there will be no sacred cows," Puno said.

"This is going to be a direct investigation of the crimes that have been committed and we are going to hold the persons responsible for this."
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Old 11-25-2009, 12:27 PM
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Default Re: Maguindanao massacre claims at least 36 lives

SHARIFF AGUAK, Philippines (UCAN) -- The massacre of more than 40 people in the southern Philippines has drawn condemnation and expressions of shock, but locals say the violence was to be expected.

The victims -- journalists, supporters and relatives of gubernatorial candidate Datu Ismail Mangudadatu -- were abducted on Nov. 23 as they were traveling to file nomination papers for elections next May. Their bodies, some beheaded, were later found nearby.

The Bishops-Ulama Conference, a conference of Christian and Islamic religious leaders for peace and development, in a Nov. 24 statement condemned the abduction and killings of Mangundadatu’s relatives and of journalists.

“This abominable sin was inflicted upon unarmed civilians whose only ‘crime’ was to proceed to the Commission on Elections office,” the religious leaders wrote.

Catholic priest Father Eduardo Vasquez, Jr., said “friends” had told him on Nov. 22 that “something would happen” to relatives of Mangudadatu if they came to the Commission on Elections office in Shariff Aguak.

“Many armed men” had been seen around that town and surrounding municipalities, said Father Vasquez, pastor of Saint Therese of the Child Jesus Parish in Datu Piang, Maguindanao province.

If ordinary people knew it was going to happen, the authorities must have also known, he added.

President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo on Nov. 24 declared a state of emergency over parts of the south, giving the military and police wide powers of detention and arrest.

Mangudadatu was not in the convoy at the time of the attack. He told authorities his wife, Genalyn, called him .....

full story:
Union of Catholic Asian News News Archive Shocked locals say violence was expected before massacre

Last edited by ucanhil : 11-25-2009 at 12:29 PM. Reason: correct errors
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Default Re: Maguindanao massacre claims at least 36 lives

Some Maguindanao massacre photos in OFW Forum gallery

Warning: some of the photos might be very disturbing.

Maguindanao massacre photos/images - Forum Photo Gallery - Overseas Filipino Worker Community

http://mabuhaycity.com/photoplog/image-maguindanao-massacre-photos-images-part-ii-1587/

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Default World condemns Maguindanao massacre

World condemns Maguindanao massacre

JOSEPH HOLANDES UBALDE, GMANews.TV


For its brazenness and sheer brutality, the United Nations led several other countries in condemning the mass slaughter of 46 people – including women and journalists – in a poll-related massacre in Maguindanao last Monday.

In a statement issued through his spokesman, UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon said he was "saddened" over the brutal killing, even as he condemned the "heinous crime."

"The Secretary-General is saddened by the reports of the brutal killing of more than 40 civilians in the Maguindanao province, Southern Philippines. He condemns this heinous crime committed in the context of a local election campaign," the statement read.

Ban also extended his "condolences" to the families of the victims and hopes that "no effort will be spared to bring justice and to hold the perpetrators accountable."

Likewise, ambassadors to the Philippines have made known their condemnation and abhorrence of the November 23 massacre.

British Ambassador Stephen Lillie issued on Wednesday a statement of condemnation, with the hope that "authorities in the Philippines will take urgent action to bring the perpetrators to justice and prevent further escalation of violence in the run-up to next year's elections here."

According to Lillie, "effective action" by the Philippine government is crucial for the British government to maintain confidence in the country.

In an interview with GMANews.TV, US Embassy deputy spokesperson Woosie Mazengia said: "We condemn such acts of violence in the strongest possible terms."

Mazengia also said that the US government is extending its condolences to the families of those killed.

Visiting Indonesian Foreign Minister Dr. Marty Natalegawa said their government feels for the Philippines’ tragedy and hopes the perpetrators will be brought to justice as soon as possible.

“As a decent human being one cannot help but feel a sense of abhorrence," Natalegawa told reporters at a press briefing in Manila.

“Any senseless killing, any senseless violence we condemn in the strongest possible term," he added.

In 1996, Indonesia facilitated the peace talks between the Philippine government and the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) in Mindanao. Natalegawa was, however, mum over questions whether such agreement could be facilitated by Indonesia for clan wars.

Meanwhile, Shigehiro Matsuda, third secretary from the Japanese embassy, said Japan is quite concerned with the security over Mindanao.

Matsuda said the Japan International Cooperation Agency and several non-governmental organizations in Janpa have projects in Mindanao.

"Japan is really sorry for the incident, but we hope the incident does not affect projects in Mindanao," Matsuda told GMANews.TV.

The massacre took place a few hours after around 50 gunmen allegedly led by Andal Ampatuan Jr., the mayor of Datu Unsay (a municipality in Maguindanao province), and a police officer later identified as Chief Inspector Sukarno Dicay seized members of a large convoy of supporters of Buluan Vice Mayor Esmael Mangudadatu, an Ampatuan clan opponent who wants to run for governor.

The convoy of Mangudadatu supporters, accompanied by journalists, was on its way to an electoral bureau headquarters to file documents related to his candidacy, which the gunmen wanted to prevent.

The fatalities included Mangudadatu’s wife, sister and other relatives.

Following the tragic killing of at least 12 journalists in Maguindanao, the Philippines has now dislodged Iraq as the most dangerous place for journalists in the world, the International Federation of Journalists said. - LG/RSJ, GMANews.TV
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Old 11-26-2009, 12:59 AM
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Default Maguindanao massacre death toll rises to 57

11/25/09
Manila, Philippines (CNN) -- Philippine President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo expects arrests in the massacre of at least 57 unarmed civilians in the next 24 hours, a spokesman said Wednesday.

"The president ... is enraged by these barbaric acts," spokesman Cerge Remonde said. "She has literally thrown the full force of the law and has mobilized the security and police forces of the state to go after the perpetrators. We are expecting arrests and prosecution in the next 24 hours."

Authorities have disbanded a paramilitary force in the southern Philippines suspected of having a role in Monday's massacre, the country's state-run media reported.

Remonde could not say how many arrests were expected

But he said the deaths were the result of a political clan war, not Muslim secessionism in a troubled region. "So far as this case is concerned, this is a limited clan political rivalry which has been going on for some time now," Remonde said.

The death toll grew Wednesday after 11 more bodies were recovered from a rural area of Mindanao, where the remains were hastily buried. Arroyo has declared Wednesday a national day of mourning.

The Philippine government is under intense pressure to find the culprits responsible for planning and carrying out the abduction and killings of politicians, lawyers, journalists and reportedly some bystanders. Suspicion has fallen on the Ampatuan family, a key ally of the Arroyo administration in the Maguindanao region of the southern Mindanao province.

Remonde appeared to blame the Ampatuan clan, adding: "There is, however, a move now by the administration party to expel the suspected clan."

Those killed include the wife and two sisters of a politician who plans to run for the spot vacated next year by Maguindanao's governor, Andal Ampatuan.

The investigation is ongoing, but a spokesman for the country's national police said the governor's son, Andal Ampatuan Jr., a local mayor, has been linked to the crime, according to media reports.

"According to the initial reports, those who were abducted and murdered at Saniag were initially stopped by a group led by the mayor of Datu Unsay [Andal Ampatuan Jr.]," National Police spokesman Chief Superintendent Leonardo Espina said, according to ABS-CBN News.

Neither the governor nor of his any advisers has commented on the allegations.

The massacre is the worst politically motivated violence in recent Philippine history. On Monday morning, about 100 gunmen stopped a convoy carrying supporters and family members of politician Ismael "Toto" Mangudadatu, witnesses and officials said.

Mangudadatu had sent his wife and sisters to file paperwork allowing him to run for governor of Maguindanao in May after he faced threats if he filed papers himself. He said the threats came from the governor's allies.

One car traveling behind the convoy was mistaken for being a part of the politician's contingent, a local official told the Philippines GMA News Network. The car was heading to a hospital, according to Tom Robles, head of the Tacurong City Employees Union, who spoke to GMA News. The driver and four passengers -- including a government employee, who had suffered a mild stroke, and his wife -- were rounded up and killed along with the convoy ahead of them, Robles said.

A police official confirmed that the car and bodies of three passengers were among those recovered at the grave site, GMA reported.

At least 12 journalists were among the victims, according to the press freedom organization Reporters Without Borders, making Monday the deadliest single day for journalists anywhere in the world.

Both the Ampatuan and Mangudadatu clans have agreed to participate in the government's investigation, according to Arroyo's adviser on the Mindanao region, Jesus Dureza, who spoke to the Philippine media Tuesday.

The region is bracing for a backlash of possible reprisal killings. The government has placed Maguindanao and its surrounding regions under a state of emergency, and survivors of massacre have entered a government witness-protection program, according to the state-run Philippines News Agency.

Arroyo has sent officials to Maguindanao to "oversee military action against the perpetrators of the dastardly acts," she said Tuesday.

"No effort has been spared to bring justice to the victims and hold the perpetrators accountable to the full limit of the law," she said.

Long-running family disputes in the southern Philippines have spilled blood before. Such blood feuds are known by the indigenous term "rido." But Monday's massacre has broader implications, Philippine analyst Kenneth E. Bauzon said.

"I think that this is a culmination for many years of impunity on the part of any family -- or group, for that matter -- because this has been tolerated by the Arroyo administration," said Bauzon, a political science associate professor at St. Joseph's College in New York. He's from Mindanao and has authored books on the region and its politics.

"So when the administration looks the other way when journalists report on military abuses [or] when the administration looks the other way when church workers are assassinated, when environmental workers are assassinated or abducted, you know, this [massacre] is just one or two steps away" from that.

The killings could further damage the political reputation of Arroyo, whose administration has been scarred by allegations of a tainted election in 2004 and criticism over her response to recent typhoons.

"It's a test as to what how far the Arroyo administration will go to arrest and prosecute the perpetrators," Bauzon said.

Arroyo's term ends in May, and she cannot seek re-election, but there has been speculation she could seek another political office.

Maguindanao is part of an autonomous region in predominantly Muslim Mindanao, which was set up in the 1990s to quell armed uprisings seeking an independent Muslim homeland in the Philippines, a predominantly Christian country.

Negotiations between one of those armed groups, the Moro Islamic Liberation Front, and the Philippine government broke down last year after the country's Supreme Court blocked a proposed peace deal that would have increased the size and scope of the autonomous region in Muslim Mindanao.

Arroyo's government exercises little control in the region, and critics blamed her for helping legitimize many of the armed groups that operate freely in Mindanao.
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Old 11-26-2009, 01:14 AM
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WALANG MGA PUSO AT KALULUWA ANG GUMAWA YAN ....SANA DI SILA PATAHIMIKIN NG MGA KALULUWANG NA MATAY
SANA GAWIN DIN YAN KANILA NG MADAMA NILA ANG SAKIT KONG PAPAANO MAWALANG NG MGA MAHAL SA BUHAY.....
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Default Maguindanao massacre suspect turns self in

ABS-CBN - Thursday, November 26
MANILA - Datu Unsay Mayor Andal Ampatuan Jr., a suspect in Monday's massacre of 57 people in Maguindanao province, submitted himself to authorities on Thursday.

A field report by ANC's Patricia Evangelista said Ampatuan Jr. turned himself in to Presidential Adviser on Mindanao Affairs Jesus Dureza.

Ampatuan Jr. was brought to a waiting helicopter bound for General Santos City, where he was turned over to Department of Justice Secretary Agnes Devanadera.

From General Santos City, Ampatuan Jr. is expected to be brought to Manila for the formal inquest.
Ampatuan Jr. is expected to be brought to Manila where he will be subjected for questioning for his alleged involvement in the election-related massacre in Ampatuan town on Monday.

The hand over took place after police and military personnel secured the provincial capitol of Maguindanao and the municipal compounds of Shariff Aguak and Ampatuan towns early Thursday.
Authorities said the local government compounds were taken over to assure the peaceful turnover of Ampatuan Jr. to Dureza.

4 other suspects in massacre named

Meanwhile, Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) Secretary Ronaldo Puno on Thursday revealed that the entire Ampatuan clan will undergo investigation for their alleged role in the murders of 57 people, including journalists and supporters of a rival political clan in Ampatuan, Maguindanao last Monday.

In a press conference, Puno said that aside from Ampatuan Jr., the DOJ has listed four other people as suspects in the crime, including Maguindanao police provincial director Senior Superintendent Abusana Maguid, Shariff Aguak police Chief Inspector Sukarno Dikay, a certain SPO2 Bakal, and an Inspector Diobingan.

He said the four were implicated in the murders based on the statements of alleged survivors of the massacre.

Puno said Dureza had given an ultimatum to the Ampatuan clan to surrender Datu Unsay town Mayor Andal "Unsay" Ampatuan Jr. for questioning about the massacre or face the full force of the law.
Puno said law enforcers secured the provincial capitol of Maguindanao and the municipal halls of Shariff Aguak and Ampatuan and disarmed a total of 437 militiamen in the province to prevent further bloodshed.

No appeasement, negotiation

"There has never been any appeasement. There has never been any negotiation. The families of the suspect have been told what our position is on the matter. As an example, if Datu Unsay Ampatuan would not have boarded the helicopter to bring him to General Santos City and then to Manila today, the Armed Forces of the Philippines and the Philippine National Police were prepared to take action and exert all physical force to make sure that the suspect would be brought to the inquest," he told reporters.

Puno said the Department of Justice (DOJ) will also investigate other members of the Ampatuan clan for possible complicity in the murders. "We have to address this crime very, very forcefully...That is not the end of the investigation until we find and bring to justice all of those who in one way or the other involved in the conduct in this heinous crime," he said.

Law enforcers on Thursday brought the Datu Unsay mayor via helicopter to General Santos City, where he will be turned over to Justice Secretary Agnes Devanadera.

At the start of the press conference, the DILG chief said the national government had to remain mum about some of the details of the government's investigation until after they were conducted. He said this included getting sworn depositions of four survivors of the massacre who were under the care of the Mangudadatus.

He said the National Police Commission has passed a resolution withdrawing the deputization of all local government units in Maguindanao. This means that the governor and municipal mayors in Maguindanao will no longer have direct supervision of police forces in their jurisdiction, he said.
"The general direction is to remove all policemen in Maguindanao and transfer them elsewhere," he said.

A local Army official, meanwhile, said the AFP has deployed one infantry battalion, one Scout Ranger battalion and two mechanized battalions to Maguindanao. - with a report from Patricia Evangelista, ANC


Suspect Andal Ampatuan Jr., centre, is escorted by police after surrendering in General Santos City, southern Philippines. AP

Last edited by hfl : 11-27-2009 at 03:14 AM.
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