|Mayor-suspect's 'surrender' not enough, says Moro group|
|Written by Malu Cadeliña Manar|
|Friday, 27 November 2009 13:21|
Kidapawan city, Nov. 26 – The voluntary surrender to authorities of Andal Ampatuan Jr. is not enough as it will not end the “terror” in the province, a militant Moro leader said.
Amirah Ali Lidasan, national president of Suara Bangsamoro, instead called on the government to also arrest Maguindanao Gov. Andal Ampatuan Sr. and others in the family believed to be part of the Ampatuan massacre. “We believe the crime was not just committed by one person,” she stressed.
Ampatuan Jr., mayor of Datu Unsay town and key suspect in the massacre of 57 people last Monday, turned himself over to Presidential Assistant on Mindanao Jesus Dureza and Chief Supt. Felizardo Serapio of the Directorate for Integrated Police Operations (DIPO). Dureza accompanied him to General Santos City where he was turned over to Justice Secretary Agnes Devanadera.
Ampatuan Jr., who is being groomed to succeed his father who is due to end his last term next year, denied that he was behind the killings of the Mangudadatus, journalists and other civilians.
Lidasan said that the Ampatuan Jr.’s surrender “will not change the situation in Maguindanao.”
“The politics of conspiracy between the national government and members of the political dynasty in Maguindanao will still continue,” she said.
Suara Bangsamoro said President Arroyo should also be held liable for the rise of the Ampatuans. “The President has helped legitimize the private army of the Ampatuans in Maguindanao, thus, she should be liable for the reign of terror in this part of the region,” she added.
Five others believed to be involved in the Ampatuan massacre were placed under inquest proceedings.
Chief Supt. Felicisimo Khu, deputy director for operations of the PNP in Region 12, has identified those in police custody as Chief Insp. Zukarno Adil Dicay, acting Maguindanao PNP chief; a certain Insp. Biongon of the Regional Mobile Group; and a certain Insp. Macaraig of the Maguindanao PNP. They were reportedly identified by witnesses as among those who flagged down the Mangudadatu convoy.
Khu said two members of the Civilian Volunteers Organization (CVO) were also arrested at the crime site. They were identified as Esmael Kanapia, who was assigned at the office of Mayor Zacaria S. Sangki of the municipality of Ampatuan, and Takpan Drilon, who works for Vice Mayor Rasul M. Sangki, also of Ampatuan.
Police said the barangay tanods also underwent paraffin test at the PNP crime laboratory in Cotabato City. They also yielded their firearms, which include an M16 rifle and a shotgun.
The suspects were brought to the Criminal Investigation and Detection Group (CIDG) in Cotabato City and were later flown to Camp Crame.
Energy Undersecretary Zamsamin Ampatuan has expressed hope the tension in Maguindanao would be eased out now that his cousin mayor has submitted himself for investigation to authorities.
He also claimed that minutes after the chopper boarded by Ampatuan Jr. left the Maguindanao provincial capitol grounds at Shariff Aguak town, it was shot by still unidentified armed men positioned at Barangay Kauran in neighboring Ampatuan town. He said the chopper was hit on the flooring but the bullet failed to bring it down.
Khu, however, dismissed the report as baseless. “There was no such report coming from those onboard the chopper. Barangay Kauran is still the Ampatuan’s turf,” Khu said in a radio interview.
The Ampatuan clan has chosen lawyer Siegfred Fortun as Ampatuan Jr.’s counsel.
“Atty. Fortun has already met with Datu Junsay (Ampatuan Jr.’s nickname). I believe everything would be okay. The military is doing its best to make sure this will subside. We just hope that no further violence will take place in Maguindanao,” said Undersecretary Ampatuan.
The National Union of Journalists of the Philippines (NUJP), in a statement issued today, said the massacre of 57 people in Ampatuan town goes beyond a “rido” or clan war.
“The sheer scope of barbarity, the brazenness of the murders betrays the perpetrators’ belief in being beyond the reach of the law. Events before and after the massacre unfortunately indicate they may be right,” the NUJP said.
The Ampatuan massacre, it added, “has not only highlighted the capacity for abuse by a political clan that has acted as ruler, judge, jury and executioner in their feudal turf; it is the graphic proof that State forces actually abet crime and protect criminals when they provide favors for government officials.”
Amid the outrage, the NUJP said the government tried to downplay the role of the Ampatuan clan in the massacre even as President Arroyo placed Maguindanao in a state of emergency.
“Filipinos have been jailed, tortured and killed for petty crimes and for exercising their right to peaceful dissent. But the alleged masterminds of this massacre received a courtesy call from a presidential adviser for Mindanao; it became a beneficiary of an appeal for due process by the press secretary. PNP officials displayed an abject reluctance to even name the Ampatuans as suspects. Negotiators had to convince the Ampatuans to face investigators,” said the group. MindaNews.com