MANHUNT FOR FUGITIVES IN MASSACRE INTENSIFIED / NOY UNDER FIRE FROM INT'L HR GROUP


MANILA, NOVEMBER 26, 2012
(PHILSTAR)
By Cecille Suerte Felipe - Philippine National Police (PNP) chief Director General Nicanor Bartolome ordered policemen to intensify operations to arrest the 91 remaining fugitives linked to the killing of 58 people in the Maguindanao massacre in 2009.

Bartolome reiterated his directive after the arrest of Bong Andal, the alleged operator of the backhoe used in burying the victims in Barangay Salman in Ampatuan town, Maguindanao on Nov. 23, 2009.

“The arrest of Andal and other suspects now in custody manifests the firm resolve of the PNP to arrest and prosecute all suspects behind the mass murder,” he said.

The PNP chief expressed confidence that the arrest of Andal, considered a key suspect in the massacre, will further strengthen the case and eventually lead to the speedy and successful dispensation of justice for the victims of the massacre allegedly carried out by members of the Ampatuan clan and their henchmen.

The clan’s patriarch, former Maguindanao governor Andal Ampatuan Sr., several of his sons and relatives and members of their so-called private army were accused of killing 58 people in the massacre.

Among the dead were the wife of Gov. Esmael Mangudadatu and two of his sisters, two female lawyers and 32 media men who covered the supposed filing of certificate of candidacy of then vice mayor of Buluan town who would run for governor of Maguindanao and challenge an Ampatuan.

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The Mangudadatus have accused the Ampatuans of masterminding the incident, specifically pointing to former mayor Andal Jr. of Datu Unsay, Maguindanao as one of the leaders of 100 armed men who abducted Mangudadatu’s supporters.

The Ampatuans denied the allegations against them.

Director Samuel Pagdilao Jr., chief of the PNP Criminal Investigation and Detection Group (CIDG), said Andal will be interrogated to help in the possible arrest of other accused in massacre.

Andal will soon be referred to Quezon City of Jocelyn Solis-Reyes, who ordered his arrest.

“He (Andal) will be routinely processed, which will include booking, medical check up and some questioning before he will be referred to the court that issued the warrant of arrest,” Pagdilao told The STAR.

A team from the Cotabato Police Provincial Office under Senior Superintendent Roque Alcantara arrested Andal over the weekend.

Massacre probers ambushed

Unidentified gunmen shot and seriously wounded two Army intelligence agents who were tracking down key suspects in the Maguindanao massacre after an ambush yesterday at the boundary of Esperanza and Isulan in Sultan Kudarat.

Col. Prudencio Asto, public affairs chief of the Army’s 6th Infantry Division, identified the wounded agents as Privates First Class Sammy Ali and Nickerson Susaya who are members of the 46th Infantry Battalion.

Ali and Susaya were wearing civilian clothes and riding tandem on a motorcycle on their way to Isulan when they were shot by the suspect, who was also riding tandem on a passing motorcycle.

Asto said the suspect used a cal. 45 pistol and shot Ali in the back while Susaya suffered a gunshot wound in his stomach.

Asto said the two agents also suffered contusions and bruises in different parts of the body when their motorcycle went out of control.

He said the two Army agents have actively been tracking down the remaining suspects in the massacre.

Intelligence units of the 6th ID and its component battalions and brigades mounted last week a renewed campaign against all suspects in the Maguindanao massacre in support of the efforts of the PNP to put them behind bars. – With John Unson

FROM BANGKOK NEWS

Police arrest another Philippine massacre suspect Published: 25/11/2012 at 03:47 PM Online news: Asia

Philippine police said Sunday they had arrested a former employee of a powerful clan blamed for the murders of 58 people in 2009, the country's worst political massacre.

[A man walks past a banner displaying the pictures of 'Maguindanao Massacre' victims in Manila in August. Philippine police said Sunday they had arrested a former employee of a powerful clan blamed for the murders of 58 people in 2009, the country's worst political massacre.]

Bong Andal did not resist when he was detained in the southern town of Midsayap Saturday, making him the 106th suspect to fall with 91 still at large, the police said in a statement.

The arrest came a day after the third anniversary of the massacre and amid calls from the victims' families to speed up prosecution of the Ampatuan clan and members of its private army who allegedly carried out the murders.

The Ampatuan clan is accused of carrying out the 2009 massacre in their Maguindanao provincial stronghold to stop a rival, Esmael Mangudadatu, from running against one of its members in elections the following year.

The victims included Mangudadatu's wife and sister, their lawyers and a large group of journalists.

Witnesses have told the court the Ampatuan clan allegedly orchestrated the killings, with at least one of the sons taking part in mowing down the suspects and ordering them to be buried in pits.

Police said Andal was the operator of the excavator used to dig the mass graves.

Rights groups have blamed the killings on a continuing "culture of impunity" in the Philippines, where politicians are known to control their own armed militias and get away with murder in the backlogged justice system.

Last week, the government said 60 private armed groups controlled by politicians remained across the country, down from 112 at the end of 2010.

Dozens of other members of the Ampatuan family who were not accused over the massacre were also said to be preparing to run again in next year's local elections, officials said.

FROM THE TRIBUNE

Aquino disappoints, HR groups write Written by Mario J. Mallari Monday, 26 November 2012 00:00

NO MEANINGFUL PROGRESS 3 YEARS SINCE MASSACRE

President Aquino came under fire from international rights and journalist groups who questioned the slow judicial process in prosecuting suspects in the gruesome Maguindanao Massacre in 2009 that resulted in the death of 58 individuals, including 32 journalists, near Ampatuan town, Maguindanao.

The International Federation of Journalists Asia-Pacific, the Southeast Asian Press Alliance, the Center for Law and Democracy and the Committee to Protect Journalists wrote Aquino Nov. 23, the anniversary of the massacre, demanding his answer for the almost standstill in the trial of the accused in what is being called as the crime of the century.
“Why no action?” the letter started.

“Since your inauguration, on June 30, 2010, you have failed to meet your election campaign promise to address the problem of impunity in the Philippines despite appeals from the national and international communities,” the groups wrote Aquino.

“As representatives of the international community of journalists and free speech defenders, we are deeply disappointed at your lack of any meaningful action,” the letter stated.

The group said the anniversary of the massacre serves as a reminder on “how little has been done to bring justice for those who have been murdered and to end the decades-long culture of impunity that continues to stalk the Philippines.”
The proceedings to bring those responsible for the Ampatuan Massacre is moving extraordinarily slowly through the judicial system, it added.

It noted that of the 196 accused, not one has so far been convicted.

“Otherwise, the statistics are not encouraging: 93 accused are still at large, one suspect has already died, only 76 accused have been arraigned, 55 accused have filed a petition for bail, and three witnesses have been killed,” it added.
The groups said at its current pace and with the number of motions filed by the defense, the Ampatuan trial will take a minimum of 24 years before a result is achieved.

They described the long period for the trial as “a mockery of justice that insults the memory of the dead and seriously questions the resolve of the authorities to see that justice is done.”

The groups that during Aquino’s term as president, a further 14 journalists were murdered, at least five in direct connection to their journalism profession citing the most recent murder of reporter broadcaster Julius Cauzo on November 8 in Cabanatuan City.

“The culture of impunity thrives and ensures that those in power feel safe in the knowledge that nothing will ever stop them should they wish to forever silence journalists who are merely doing their job,” the groups wrote.

“As a result, powerful wrongdoers in the Philippines feel safe in the knowledge that they are largely free to silence brave journalists for doing their job and exposing the wrongdoing. This is a crime not only against journalists, but also against all Filipinos, who are being denied their right to information,” it added.

The alleged operator of the backhoe used in 2009 massacre, meanwhile, was captured by composite police teams in Cotabato province on Saturday or a day after the third anniversary of the gruesome killing of 58 civilians in Maguindanao which was marked by protest rallies for the seeming slow dispensation of justice.

Philippine National Police (PNP) Director General Nicanor Bartolome expressed optimism that the arrest of Bong Andal, the supposed operator of the backhoe used in burying the victims in the massacre, would further strengthen the case against those charged.

Bartolome also expressed confidence that Andal’s arrest would eventually lead to the “speedy and successful dispensation of justice for the 58 murder victims.”

“The arrest of Andal, and other suspects now in custody manifests the firm resolve of the PNP to arrest and prosecute all suspects behind the mass murder,” said Bartolome.

Bartolome said that instructed all PNP units to press the ongoing manhunt operations against the remaining 92 suspects. He also noted efforts by the Special Investigation Task Group “Maguindanao’s to shift the hunt to high gear.

Police reports showed that Andal was captured by combined elements of the Cotabato Provincial Police Office, under Senior Supt. Roque Alcantara; Pikit Municipal Police Station and Midsayap Municipal Police Station during a joint operation along the National Highway in Barangay Kapinpilan, Midsayap town.

Andal is the subject of an arrest warrant issued by Judge Jocelyn Solis-Reyes of the Quezon City Regional Trial Court Branch 221.
At present, 92 massacre suspects are still at large while 104, including Andal, have been accounted for since the cold-blooded killing was committed on Nov. 23, 2009.

A total of 58 civilians, 32 of whom were media practitioners, were massacred and buried using a backhoe at the outskirts of Barangay Salman in Ampatuan town. The victims were led by the wife of incumbent Maguindanao Gov. Esmael Mangudadatu.

Andal did not resist when he was detained in the southern town of Midsayap Saturday, making him the 106th suspect to fall with 91 still at large, the police said in a statement.

The arrest came a day after the third anniversary of the massacre and amid calls from the victims’ families to speed up prosecution of the Ampatuan clan and members of its private army who allegedly carried out the murders.

The Ampatuan clan is accused of carrying out the 2009 massacre in their Maguindanao provincial stronghold to stop a rival, Esmael Mangudadatu, from running against one of its members in elections the following year.

The victims included Mangudadatu’s wife and sister, their lawyers and a large group of journalists.

Witnesses have told the court the Ampatuan clan allegedly orchestrated the killings, with at least one of the sons taking part in mowing down the suspects and ordering them to be buried in pits.

Rights groups have blamed the killings on a continuing “culture of impunity” in the Philippines, where politicians are known to control their own armed militias and get away with murder in the backlogged justice system.

Last week, the government said 60 private armed groups controlled by politicians remained across the country, down from 112 at the end of 2010.

Dozens of other members of the Ampatuan family who were not accused over the massacre were also said to be preparing to run again in next year’s local elections, officials said. AFP


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