Police suspect in Ampatuan Massacre returns home in a box

COTABATO CITY (MindaNews/08 February) — A policeman-suspect in the November 23, 2009 massacre in Ampatuan, Maguindanao who jumped from the rooftop of the detention center in Taguig City,  arrived home in a box Tuesday, for burial in his hometown.

The remains of PO2 Hernani Dicipulo arrived in a crate at 2 p.m. Tuesday at the airport in Datu Odin Sinsuat, Maguindanao, on board a commercial plane, accompanied by his wife, Norhaya, who broke down upon arrival and was immediately whisked off to a vehicle by her brother.

The crate containing the body of Dicipulo, a policeman who was off duty on the day of the massacre, was immediately brought to the public cemetery in Barangay Gang, Sultan Kudarat town in Maguindanao for burial.

Wives and relatives of other policemen from Maguindanao who are detained along with the Ampatuan patriarch Andal Ampatuan, Jr. and his four sons for the massacre of  58 persons, 32 of them media workers, were at the airport to express their sympathies.

The policemen’s wives and relatives, now members of the organization,  “1123 Advocates,”  reiterated their call to speed up the trial of the case to avoid a repeat of what happened to Dicipulo.

Dicipulo’s wife, Norhaya, declined to face the cameras but stressed that her husband, a member of the Philippine National Police’s 1508 Regional Mobile Group,  killed himself not because he was guilt-stricken but because of  depression.

He had reportedly been telling his co-accused he would be among the first to be acquitted since he was off duty at the time of the massacre.

Dicipulo jumped from the rooftop of the detention center shortly after the 3 p.m. prayers. Philstar.com quoted a report from the Southern Police District that the incident happened at around 4 p.m. while Dicipulo was talking with his wife who was then visiting.

The report quoted the wife as saying her husband said, “O paano, mauuna na ako sa iyo” (I’ll go ahead) then jumped off.

Out of 196 charged for the  2009 massacre, 65 were police personnel, of whom 43 had been arraigned, including Dicipulo.

Members of the 1123 Advocates, the organization the policemen’s families set up in September  2010, had appealed several times to President Benigno Aquino,  Justice Secretary Leila de Lima and Commission on Human Rights chair Etta Rosales to grant their request for a “separate and speedy trial” for the policemen, as they narrated how their sons and daughters had stopped schooling and how difficult life has been for them.

Fifty-eight persons were killed in the November 23, 2009 massacre in Ampatuan, Maguindanao but families of  30 policemen who claimed to have no participation at all in the massacre but are presently detained with the other suspects in Camp Bagong Diwa in Taguig City, say they are  “pinapatay nang pa-unti-unti” (being killed slowly) since the detention of  the policemen and the suspension of their salaries.

Bai Jalilah Maguid, Vice President of 1123Advocates, said Decipulo’s death was “dahil sa sobrang depresyon, may dati na siyang sakit” (due to depression; he had been ill previously)

Maguid, wife of Supt. Abusama Maguid told MindaNews in September 2011 that  “patay nga yung namatayan pero itong mga pamilya ng mga pulis, pinapatay nang pa-unti-unti…” (The families of the victims lost their loved ones but the families of the policemen are being killed slowly).

“Hanggang kailan kami magtitiis? Hanggang mamatay kami sa gutom?” (Until when will we suffer? Until we die of hunger?), she asked.

The group also reiterated their appeal to the President through a manifesto sent to the Maguindanao Provincial Board on January 12, 2011.

“We suffered so much anxiety, anguish, and embarrassment for we are being ridiculed including our children, as families of murderers. We also suffered financial difficulties that (made) our children stop schooling because most of us rely mainly on the earnings or our husbands, brothers and sons,” the group said.

Anwar Embalawa, nephew of Supt. Maguid, and a member of  1123 Advocates, told MindaNews that Dicipulo “did not commit suicide because he was guilt-stricken but because of too much depression, knowing that he had no participation in the crime since he was off duty that time.” (Ferdinandh B. Cabrera with a report from Carolyn O. Arguillas/MindaNews)