Maguindanao officials want state of emergency extended

TACURONG CITY (MindaNews/06 August) — The Peace and Order Council of Maguindanao in a meeting Thursday proposed the extension of the state of emergency over Maguindanao, which was declared eight months ago.

Military and police, as well as civilian authorities in Maguindanao had earlier proposed the extension, claiming the peace and order situation improved under a state of emergency.

The President issued Proclamation 1946 declaring a state of emergency over Maguindanao and Sultan Kudarat provinces and the city of Cotabato on November 24, a day after the massacre of at least 58 persons, 32 of them from the media, in Ampatuan town, Maguindanao. The President declared a state of emergency to “prevent and suppress the occurrence of similar other incidents of lawless violence.”

It was superseded by Proclamation 1959 declaring a state of martial law and suspending the privilege of the writ of habeas corpus on December 4. When martial law was lifted on December 12, the area remained under SOE.

Maguindanao Governor Esmael “Toto” Mangudadatu said Paglat Mayor Abs Langkuno suggested and asked if the local chief executives could decide on the matter based on their assessments of their respective towns.

But Mangudadatu said the suggestion of Langkuno would take a longer process.

They agreed that the Provincial Peace and Order Council (PPOC)  would  decide on the matter.

Mangudadatu chairs the PPOC with members from the Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG), Philippine National Police, Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP), and representatives from Civil Society.

As the PPOC was going on, one of 128 members of the Civilian Volunteers Organization who are wanted for the massacre, surrendered to the police in Datu Hoffer town to “clear my name.”

“I am worried that my name was included in the Maguindanao massacre wanted list. I just want to clear our my name,” said Datukan Salibo, a CVO from the province’s Datu Saudi Ampatuan town.

Salibo’s surrender was through the efforts of the Criminal Investigation and Detection Group and the Maguindanao police.

Salibo and others in the wanted list carry a P250,000 reward each for their capture.

He said nine other CVOs are willing to surface as long as their security, and that of their families, is assured by authorities. The nine others, however, did not show up on Thursday.

Mangudadatu, who presided over the province’s first-ever PPOC meeting, welcomed the report about the planned surrender.

“Let us join hands for one road to peace and development,” the governor stressed as he reiterated his commitment for reconciliation with political foes. But Mangudadatu said this does not mean those who are involved in the grisly Nov. 23 carnage, even if they signify they would surrender, would be spared from prosecution.

Mangudadatu’s wife, Genalyn, his eldest and youngest sisters, several other relatives and two of his lawyers were among the massacre victims. They were en route to the provincial office of the Commission on Elections in Shariff Aguak when stopped in Ampatuan town, by about a hundred armed men led by Datu Unsay mayor Datu Andal Ampatuan, Jr. who wanted to run for governor, unopposed like his father in 2007.

Ampatuan, Jr., his father, Andal Ampatuan, Sr., former Maguindanao governor; three brothers – Datu Zaldy, Datu Anwar and Datu Sajid – and brother-in-law Akmad “Tato” Ampatuan, are among those detained in Metro Manila where the case is being heard.

Relatives of the Ampatuan patriarch, Datu Andal Ampatuan, Sr.  —  Datu Sarip and Akmad – elected as Mayor and Board Member, were among those who attended the PPOC.

Personal security reasons reportedly prompted Mangudadatu to hold the PPOC meeting in Genalyn Resort here. It is not clear why the PPOC meeting was held here instead of Buluan town where the governor is holding office temporarily.

The governor and his vice governor, Ismael Mastura, do not hold office at the provincial capitol in Shariff Aguak, the hometown of the Ampatuans. Mastura and the provincial board are holding office in Sultan Kudarat town while Mangudadatu is holding office in Buluan town, pending the rehabilitation of the old capitol in  Nuling, Sultan Kudarat town.

At the PPOC, Mangudadatu cited his eight-point agenda: restoration of peace and order; transparent governance; poverty reduction programs; infrastructure development;  parallel support to Madaris education;  equal access to quality services; environmental management programs and enhanced revenue generation.  (Ferdinandh Cabrera/MindaNews)