Hunt on for Maguindanao town mayor wanted for murder
COTABATO CITY, Philippines—Police in Maguindanao have launched a hunt for Mayor Zahara Ampatuan of the town of Shariff Aguak who was reported “missing” two weeks ago after a court issued a warrant for her arrest in murder case.
“We are looking for her. We are also seeking the help of her relatives so she can surrender peacefully and face the charges against her in proper forum,” Chief Superintendent Noel Delos Reyes, director of the police in the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao, told reporters Saturday.
The “missing” mayor is the wife of former Shariff Aguak Mayor Anwar Ampatuan, one of the detained principal suspects in the Nov. 23, 2009, massacre of 58 people, more than half of them journalists.
Delos Reyes said a court here sought her arrest in connection with the April 3 killing of Alfredo Amelista, who was secretary of Shariff Aguak’s municipal council.
Two others, Kanurin Tayuan and Rambo Guiasalam, were also charged in Amelista’s killing.
Amelista once issued an affidavit in support of Anwar Ampatuan’s bid to have the charges against him in connection with the Maguindanao massacre dismissed, but the court denied that petition.
Delos Reyes said the police had no idea where Zahara has gone but added that public help could speed up the arrest of the fugitive town official.
Shariff Aguak Vice Mayor Marop Ampatuan assumed office as acting mayor on Thursday with the approval of the ARMM’s Department of the Interior and Local Government.
The vice mayor later told reporters he had to assume the post to avoid a vacuum in the local government as the mayor, his aunt, had not reported for work for the past two weeks.
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