Police seek help in finding 80 Maguindanao massacre suspects
MANILA, Philippines — The Philippine National Police on Sunday described as a big challenge accounting for 80 persons, 12 of them police personnel, who were allegedly involved in the 2009 Maguindanao massacre.
“This is a big challenge to the PNP because of the large number of people involved in one case so we need the cooperation of our citizens,“ PNP spokesperson Brig. Gen. Bernard Banac said in an interview aired Sunday over radio station dzBB.
“Mindanao residents may be able to help us with information that we could use to arrest these (80) persons,” he said, explaining that before police operations can be conducted for a person’s arrest, PNP personnel need specific details particularly on the location.
Banac explained that the 80 suspects in the Maguindanao massacre remain unaccounted for a decade after the brutal killing of 57 persons, including 32 media workers, because they have most likely been hiding in their strongholds.
While the PNP was able to arrest over 100 of the suspects and bring them under the court’s jurisdiction in the course of 10 years, it was not able to get information during the period on the 80 others at large.
“Nobody wanted to talk or cooperate probably because they did not want to get involved but maybe now people would want to share information after we have seen justice prevail and there is nothing to fear anymore,” Banac said.
“Any information would be a big help for us to be able to arrest the suspects who remain at large,“ he added.
Banac said the PNP is currently coordinating with the different local government units in Mindanao to be able to locate the suspects. Beyond the guilty verdict handed down last week, the long road to justice also underscores the urgency to stop “fat” political dynasties in the government, according to the dean of the Ateneo School of Government.
Unless these political clans are removed, the “structural features” that allowed the bloodbath to happen on Nov. 23, 2009, will continue to exist, Dean Ronald Mendoza told the Inquirer.
“It is a classic case of a fat political dynasty weakening checks-and-balances at the local level and already behaving as if they are above the law,” he said.
At present, several members of the Ampatuan family still hold positions in government. Acquitted Sajid himself, who was absent during the promulgation, is the incumbent mayor of Shariff Saydona Mustapha in Maguindanao.
“This entire episode underscores that we should really stop fat dynasties in this country,” Mendoza said.
Meanwhile, Foreign Secretary Teodoro Locsin Jr. saw red in the acquittal of 56 of the accused in the 2009 Maguindanao massacre.
He strongly opposed presidential spokesperson Salvador Panelo’s statement that years in what could have been productive lives of those detained but eventually acquitted for the massacre of 57 people had been “wasted.”
Locsin insisted that those acquitted, who included Ampatuan family members, policemen and paramilitary, deserved their years in detention because they were “connected to that psycho family.”
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