Zaldy Ampatuan kids traumatized by police raids on home, claims wifeBy Charlie C. Señase
COTABATO CITY, Philippines – The children of of former regional governor Zaldy Ampatuan, one of the accused in the 2009 Maguindanao massacre, were being traumatized by regular police raids on their home as authorities continue to hunt for hidden firearms, his wife claimed.
“It’s all right for me but my little children have been traumatized by these continuing raids by authorities only to find out nothing,” said Johaira Midtimbang-Ampatuan, Hofer town mayor.
She said her four children – aged 21, 18, 14 and 9 – would shiver at the sight of police officers coming to their house in Shariff Aguak town and that their studies were now being affected.
Johaira said her children no longer socialize these days.
“The nonstop searching by police is causing my children apprehension, affecting their studies and socialization as they are teased by schoolmates,” she said.
She said that while the diggings have become regular, authorities had not found a single firearm. “No firearms, no other pieces of evidence were found,” she said.
Maguindanao police director Senior Superintendent Marcelo Pintac said the police operatives that conducted the raid were members of the Regional Police Mobile Group and that the searches were “valid and legitimate.”
Rajah Buayan Mayor Jacob Ampatuan, also a relative of the main suspects in the massacre, said the diggings could be politically motivated.
“I hope I’m wrong, but the 2013 elections are just a few months away and such moves could be [meant to] harass the innocent Ampatuans,” he said.
He said like the massacre victims, the so-called innocent Ampatuans also want justice served as swiftly as possible.
“Let’s stop this black propaganda and call for the swift dispensation of justice for the victims. To the accused, punish the guilty and free the innocent,” he said.
Last Thursday, the Supreme Court affirmed a lower court’s order to include Zaldy Ampatuan, former governor of the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao, among the 195 accused in the massacre, considered the worst case of political violence in the country’s history.
Also among the accused are Ampatuan patriarch Andal Sr. and his other son and namesake Andal Jr., who is the primary suspect.
The slaughter in Ampatuan town on Nov. 23, 2009 claimed the lives of 57 persons, including 31 journalists and media workers. The body of the reported 58th victim, photojournalist Reynaldo Momay, has not been found but his personal effects were.