Arrest of remaining Maguindanao massacre suspects sought

AMPATUAN, Maguindanao–Relatives of the 58 victims of the Maguindanao massacre asked government security forces on Thursday to arrest the remaining suspects in the carnage who remain at large.

Relatives of slain journalists and the family of Maguindanao Governor Esmael Mangudadatu commemorated the 8th year anniversary of the massacre in Sitio Masalay, Barangay Salman, Ampatuan, Maguindanao. They offered prayers and released white balloons in remembrance of their loved ones slain in the incident.

Mangudadatu, who lost his wife Genalyn in the massacre along with eight other women relatives, said three or four close relatives of primary suspect Andal “Unsay” Ampatuan Jr. are still at large despite their participation in the country’s worst election-related violence.

Mangudadatu said he and the relatives of other victims are optimistic that President Rodrigo Duterte will help fast track the resolution of cases against the suspects, including the arrest all massacre suspects.

The governor cited reports that some of the suspects, grandsons of the late Governor Andal Sr., had joined the local terrorists group with links to ISIS.

Marino Ridao of Cotabato City who lost his son Tony in the incident, said he is not losing hope that justice will be served.

“Hopefully, under President Duterte’s term, justice for the victims is finally served,” said Ridao, 87.

Ridao said he would want the resolution of the case while he is still alive.

Ivy Maravilla whose husband Ernesto, journalist of Bombo Radyo in Koronadal City, was one of those killed, vowed she will not stop fighting for justice for her husband and other massacre victims.

Thirty-two journalists and media workers joined a convoy of Mangudadatu’s wife and relatives in filing his certificate on candidacy on Nov. 23, 2009 in Shariff Aguak town.

But the convoy was stopped by the heavily armed Andal Jr and his militia. The victims were herded and executed at Sitio Masalay, a mountainous area in Ampatuan town.

Andal Jr., his father and siblings including former Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao Governor Zaldy Ampatuan, were jailed at Camp Bagong Diwa in Taguig in connection with the incident. Andal Sr. died while in detention at the maximum security prison facility.

Morethan 100 of the 197 identified suspects are now detained and face prosecution.Edwin Fernandez/PNA-northbiundasia.com