MILF coddling 76 people facing charges for 2009 Maguindanao massacre—lawyer | Inquirer News
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WORLD’S DEADLIEST ATTACK AGAINST MEDIA WORKERS

MILF coddling 76 people facing charges for 2009 Maguindanao massacre—lawyer

04:59 AM November 24, 2020

ZAMBOANGA CITY—Both the Philippine National Police and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) play a big role in the arrest of 76 people facing charges but are still at large for the killing of 58 people, including 32 journalists in Ampatuan, Maguindanao, 11 years ago, the lawyer of the massacre victims said.

Nena Santos, lawyer of the Ampatuan massacre victims, said 76 people included in the first wave of charges against the Ampatuan clan of Maguindanao should have been arrested 10 years ago but they remained at large because they were “protected.”

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“The 76 at large were included in the first wave of charges,” Santos said in an online forum to remember what has been considered the worst election-related violence in the country and the world’s deadliest single attack against media workers when 58 people out to file the certificate of candidacy of a local politician were waylaid and killed in an isolated hillside at Sitio Masalay, Barangay Salman, Ampatuan town, Maguindanao, on Nov. 23, 2009.

She said that when the MILF signed the peace deal with the government, she was hopeful that it would hasten the delivery of justice to the massacre victims.

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“I was delighted with the setting up of the BARMM (Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao) because I was thinking that they would finally turn over [the suspects] to the police. The PNP-BARMM were supposed to arrest the suspects but until now, of the 80 suspects still at large, only four were arrested. There are still 76 remaining,” she said.

“[According to the] reports [that] we got, they are [being kept in] the safe haven of the mayor of Mamasapano, who is the brother of Banarin Ampatuan, the sons of Rebecca Ampatuan and Akmad Tato Ampatuan, their father.”

Witnesses to the gruesome murder identified Akmad Tato Ampatuan was present at the massacre site along with 20 men armed with high-powered weapons.

“According to the reports we got, they are paying money in exchange for protection from the MILF so that they won’t get arrested,” Santos said.

But MILF spokesperson Von Al-Haq denied that the MILF, as an organization, was protecting the 76 still at large in the Ampatuan massacre case.

He said it was possible that some of them could be hiding among their relatives who had links with the MILF, but the MILF as an organization would never tolerate them.

“It’s possible. But it’s not organizational. Why would we coddle them? They are criminals,” Al-Haq told the Inquirer.

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Malacañang on Monday vowed to go after suspects in the Maguindanao massacre who remain at large.

“They will be caught eventually and they will be held accountable,” presidential spokesperson Harry Roque said. —With reports from Julie Alipala, Jeoffrey Maitem, Jerome Aning and Krixia Subingsubing INQ

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TAGS: Ampatuan Massacre, Maguindanao massacre, MILF
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