Cotabato City political scene heats up over Sema ambush, murder charges

COTABATO CITY (MindaNews/08 February) —  It’s 15 months before the May 13, 2013 elections but  the political scene here has heated up with the filing Monday of charges of frustrated murder and attempted murder against Mayor Japal Guiani, his sister Atty. Frances Guiani-Sayadi who is the City Administrator, and five others for the January 10 ambush that injured Vice Mayor Muslimin Sema.

Investigators said the ambush was politically motivated. The accused said the charges were politically motivated.

Speaking on behalf of her brother who is out of the city on official travel, Sayadi denied the allegations but told a press conference that they will face the charges filed against them. She said the charges were “politically motivated.”

The charges were filed before the Department of Justice by the Criminal Investigation and Detection Group (CIDG) of the Philippine National Police.

CIDG chief Director Samuel Pagdilao Jr. said the motive of the failed assassination was to prevent Sema from running for mayor in 2013.

Sema was mayor for three terms with Guiani was his vice mayor. In 2010, Sema, who had completed a third term and was disqualified for running again for mayor, opted to run for vice mayor, while Guiani ran for mayor.

Sayadi said they learned about the filing of the charges only through a text message and that  they have yet to receive a copy of the complaint filed against her brother-mayor, herself, her husband Omar Sayadi, the city’s number one councilor, Graham Dumama; ABC President Abdillah Lim, Barangay Captain Amil Sula, and Police Inspector Noel Gutierrez, chief of  Police Station 2.

Sayadi said there may be a third party taking advantage of the situation and making scenarios to disrupt the “peaceful political relationships in the city.”

“For us, this is a grand design to put down the Guiani clan. For what? 2013 is fast approaching. And records will show na hindi kailanman pumasok sa utak ng kapatid ko na pumatay ng kasama niya. Ang ganda na ng image ng Cotabato City, we were able to reap awards and change the status of the city from being third class to being first class. Kung mag-eelection tayo bukas, would you destroy your name when you know you can handily win any election?” she asked.

Sema was ambushed near his residence on Don Gonzalo Javier St., Rosary Heights-7 village shortly before noon of January 10.

He was returning home when shots were fired, prompting his escorts to fire back, killing the alleged gunman, Jermin Abdullah.

But in a February 7 letter to Nonnatus Caesar Roja, OIC National Director of the  National Bureau of Investigation through Acting ARMM Regional Director Sixto Burgos, Baigan Salik Abdullah, the wife of the alleged gunman, said the death of Abdullah should be investigated “deeply and thoroughly,” claiming “my husband is a victim and a fall guy.”

“Recent events seem to be deviating from the real issue and is not leaving towards unearthing the truth. Even the findings of the PNP SOCO (Philippine National Police Scene of the Crime Operation)  that my late husband was negative of powder burns were not being considered by the investigating team,” she said. (Ferdinandh B. Cabrera/MindaNews)