SHARIFF AGUAK, Maguindanao (MindaNews / 18 July) — Former Maguindanao Governor Andal Ampatuan Sr., one of the principal suspects in the November 23, 2009 massacre of 58 persons, 32 of them from the media, was buried at the back of his mansion here before 3 p.m. Saturday.
Only family members, relatives and supporters were in attendance as the family requested privacy during the Islamic burial rites.
The Ampatuan patriarch was confined at the National Kidney and Transplant Institute (NKTI) from June 5 for “advanced liver cancer.” He fell into a coma morning of July 13 after suffering a massive heart attack and passed away at 10 p.m. on July 17.
Reporters were barred from entering the compound during the burial.
The 74-year old Ampatuan, arrested on December 5, 2009 and was brought to Davao City and later Manila for detention, was a long-time mayor of Shariff Aguak town before serving as governor.
His remains arrived at the Awang Airport in Datu Odin Sinsuat, Maguindanao on board a regular Manila-Cotabato commercial flight
His casket was loaded on a family-owned black SUV with relatives and supporters joining the convoy on board flashy cars.
At past 12 noon, a convoy of luxury cars arrived with the lead car – an ambulance with siren and hazard signals – reminiscent of the days when the patriarch was still in power and moved around in a convoy with police and Army escorts.
The SUV that carried the Ampatuan patriarch’s remains entered his home along the national highway in Poblacion Shariff Aguak. As soon as the SUV entered, a pick-up vehicle blocked the main gate, preventing other vehicles from coming in.
Visitors, politicians, local leaders, friends, former officials of the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao followed inside but the media were barred.
Former Maguindanao Board Member Yasser Ampatuan wanted to pay his last respects to his uncle but opted against it. Yasser is presently affiliated with the Ampatuans’ political rival, the Mangudadatus.
The burial rites ended at about 2:45 p.m.
In a statement, Maguindanao Governor Esmael Mangudadatu, said he hopes Ampatuan Sr. rests in peace. “Regardless of his death, however, the Mangudadatu family and other families of the victims of the Ampatuan Maguindanao massacre case will continue to seek justice for the 58 persons who were gruesomely killed.” (Ferdinandh Cabrera / MindaNews)