(UPDATE 5) Maguindanao massacre suspect turns self in


Posted at Nov 26 2009 11:56 AM | Updated as of Nov 26 2009 11:17 PM

MANILA - Datu Unsay Mayor Andal Ampatuan Jr., a suspect in Monday's massacre of 57 people in Maguindanao province, submitted  himself to authorities on Thursday.

A field report by ANC's Patricia Evangelista said Ampatuan Jr. turned himself in to Presidential Adviser on Mindanao Affairs Jesus Dureza.

Ampatuan Jr. was brought to a waiting helicopter bound for General Santos City, where he was turned over to Department of Justice Secretary Agnes Devanadera.

Prosecutors, led by Chief State Prosecutor Jovencito Zuño, conducted inquest proceedings in General Santos City, radio dzMM reported.

From General Santos City, Ampatuan Jr. is expected to be brought to Manila.

The hand over took place after police and military personnel secured the provincial capitol of Maguindanao and the municipal compounds of Shariff Aguak and Ampatuan towns early Thursday.

Authorities said the local government compounds were taken over to assure the peaceful turnover of Ampatuan Jr. to Dureza.

4 other suspects in massacre named

Meanwhile, Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) Secretary Ronaldo Puno on Thursday revealed that the entire Ampatuan clan will undergo investigation for their alleged role in the murders of 57 people, including journalists and supporters of a rival political clan in Ampatuan, Maguindanao last Monday.

In a press conference, Puno said that aside from Ampatuan Jr., the DOJ has listed four other people as suspects in the crime, including Maguindanao police provincial director Senior Superintendent Abusana Maguid, Shariff Aguak police Chief Inspector Sukarno Dikay, a certain SPO2 Bakal, and an Inspector Diobingan.

He said the four were implicated in the murders based on the statements of alleged survivors of the massacre.

Puno said Dureza had given an ultimatum to the Ampatuan clan to surrender Ampatuan Jr. for questioning about the massacre or face the full force of the law.

Puno said law enforcers secured the provincial capitol of Maguindanao and the municipal halls of Shariff Aguak and Ampatuan and were disarming a total of 347 militiamen in the province to prevent further bloodshed.

No appeasement, negotiation

"There has never been any appeasement. There has never been any negotiation. The families of the suspect have been told what our position is on the matter. As an example, if Datu Unsay Ampatuan would not have boarded the helicopter to bring him to General Santos City and then to Manila today, the Armed Forces of the Philippines and the Philippine National Police were prepared to take action and exert all physical force to make sure that the suspect would be brought to the inquest," he told reporters.

Puno said the Department of Justice (DOJ) will also investigate other members of the Ampatuan clan for possible complicity in the murders. "We have to address this crime very, very forcefully...That is not the end of the investigation until we find and bring to justice all of those who in one way or the other involved in the conduct in this heinous crime," he said.

Press Secretary Cerge Remonde, meanwhile, said the government will continue to pursue the other perpetrators of the crime.

“The taking in, inquest, and the subsequent filing of charges against Datu Unsay Ampatuan is just the beginning. The government will be relentless in bringing to justice all responsible for the gruesome Maguindanao massacre. President Arroyo wants all the culprits punished without fear or favor," he said in a statement.

At the start of the press conference, the DILG chief said the national government had to remain mum about some of the details of the government's investigation until after they were conducted. He said this included getting sworn depositions of four survivors of the massacre who were under the care of the Mangudadatus.

He said the National Police Commission has passed a resolution withdrawing the deputization of all local government units in Maguindanao. This means that the governor and municipal mayors in Maguindanao will no longer have direct supervision of police forces in their jurisdiction, he said.

"The general direction is to remove all policemen in Maguindanao and transfer them elsewhere," he said.

A local Army official, meanwhile, said the AFP has deployed one infantry battalion, one Scout Ranger battalion and two mechanized battalions to Maguindanao. -- with a report from Patricia Evangelista, ANC