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Puno says other Ampatuans to be probed

Posted at | Updated as of 11/27/09 3:12 AM

4 cops suspects in Maguindanao massacre

MANILA - The Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) 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, DILG Secretary Ronaldo Puno said that aside from Datu Unsay Mayor Andal Ampatuan Jr., the Department of Justice (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.

Presidential Adviser Jesus Dureza had given an ultimatum to the Ampatuan clan to surrender Datu Unsay town Mayor Andal "Unsay" Ampatuan Jr. for questioning about the massacre or face the full force of the law.

Ampatuan was taken into custody around noon on Thursday in Maguindanao and turned over to Dureza.

Puno said law enforcers secured the provincial capitol of Maguindanao and the municipal halls of Shariff Aguak and Ampatuan and disarmed a total of 437 militiamen in the province to prevent further bloodshed.

'Gov't did not negotiate with Ampatuans'

"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.

Law enforcers on Thursday brought the Datu Unsay mayor via helicopter to General Santos City, where he will be turned over to Justice Secretary Agnes Devanadera. From there, he is expected to be brought to Manila for the formal inquest.

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 company and two mechanized battalions to Maguindanao.