US ambassador hits killing of Ampatuan Massacre witness

MALAYBALAY CITY (MindaNews/25 June) – US Ambassador to the Philippines Harry K. Thomas today issued a statement condemning the murder of Suwaib Upham, a key witness in the November 23, 2009 massacre of some 60 people, including 32 media workers in Ampatuan town in Maguindanao.

Thomas said the murder “adds additional urgency to the need for swift investigation and prosecution of those responsible for the brutal massacre of 56 people in Maguindanao in November 2009. Too many families still wait justice, and now the Upham family joins them.”

“The United States would continue to support the Philippine Government’s efforts to build capacity to investigate and prosecute such crimes,” he added.

The ambassador urged authorities to conduct a swift investigation into Upham’s death and bring those responsible to justice.

Upham was gunned down on June 14, in Parang, Maguindanao as he was about to fly back to Manila to return to the custody of a lawyer for several of the victims’ families, MindaNews yesterday reported.

But it was only yesterday that his death was made known to the public.

The massacre was blamed on some members of the powerful Ampatuan family, including Andal Ampatuan Sr., former Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) Gov. Zaldy Ampatuan and former Datu Unsay mayor Andal Ampatuan Jr.

Upham, a member of the Ampatuan family’s disbanded militia that government used in the war against the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF), alleged it was Andal Jr. who led the massacre. (MindaNews)