COTABATO CITY, Philippines–Another suspect in the 2009 Maguindanao massacre was arrested by soldiers in a chance encounter with armed men in Mamasapano, Maguindanao on Saturday, the military reported on Monday.
Colonel Dickson Hermoso, spokesperson of the Army’s 6th Infantry Division, said that “anytime soon” Talimbo Abdulrakman, who is also known as Tommy Masukat, will be flown to Manila to face charges along with the other principal suspects belonging to the prominent Ampatuan political clan.
At least 58 civilians, mostly media practitioners, were summarily executed, including the wife and relatives of Maguindanao Gov. Esmael Mangudadatu, in Ampatuan town on Nov. 23, 2009.
The bloodbath, considered the worst case of election-related violence in the country’s history, has over 100 suspects with less than 90 of them with pending arrest warrants.
Hermoso said soldiers from the 45th Infantry Battalion were on patrol in Barangay (village) Manungkaling when they chanced upon heavily armed men that resulted in a brief skirmish.
But relatives of the suspect complained that the arrest was a case of mistaken identity–that the captured Talimbo Abdulrakman is not Tommy Masukat, who is said to be a member of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front.