NBI to join hunt for Ampatuan massacre suspects

By Edu Punay, The Philippine Star

Posted at Jul 03 2012 02:13 AM | Updated as of Jul 03 2012 08:47 PM

MANILA, Philippines - National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) agents will help hunt down suspects in the Maguindanao massacre who remain at large.

Justice Secretary Leila de Lima said yesterday NBI agents, most likely from field offices in Mindanao, would assist the Philippine National Police and the Armed Forces of the Philippines in the manhunt.

“I will discuss it with NBI OIC (Nonnatus Caesar Rojas), and we will see how many of the manpower of NBI could be tapped,” she said.

De Lima said she is alarmed over the killing of witnesses Esmail Amil Enog last March and Menjie Mangulamas Ubpon last February.

“We should already help in the manhunt so these suspects at-large could be neutralized already,” she said.

“For as long as they’re out there, we’re afraid that those incidents of killings of witnesses would continue.”

De Lima said she has forwarded to Interior Secretary Jesse Robredo the names of suspects who have remained in hiding more than two years after the murders.

“(The missing suspects) still have the capacity and resources to terrorize the community,” she said.

De Lima said Enog and Ubpon were not covered by the government’s witness protection program (WPP).

“As you know, WPP coverage is voluntary and never compulsory,” she said. “We cannot compel witnesses who refuse to be covered (by the program).”

Authorities confirmed Enog’s killing only last month, although he was killed last March.

His body was found in a sack near marshland, chain-sawed into pieces.

Enog had testified in court in July last year that he drove dozens of gunmen to the massacre site from the residence of one of the suspects.

Ubpon was killed in Shariff Aguak’s public market last Feb. 21. Two men on a motorcycle shot him.

He was an alleged aide of Kanor Ampatuan and a leader of the civilian volunteer organization that took part in the massacre.