CIDG turns to public for help in the arrest of 189 suspects in Ampatuan massacre

GENERAL SANTOS CITY (MindaNews/23 July) – Eight months after the massacre of at least 58 persons, 32 of them from the media, the Criminal Investigation and Detection Group (CIDG) in Region 12 (Southwestern Mindanao) has turned to the public for assistance in its continuing manhunt against at least 189 other suspects in the gruesome massacre of November 23, 2009.

Chief Insp. Francisco Sonza, CIDG-12 administrative officer, said Friday they have released posters detailing a reward of P250,000 each for any information from the public that would lead to the arrest of the 189 persons who are still at large even as they have been earlier ordered arrested by a Quezon City court in connection with the killings.

He said they initially sent copies of the “most wanted” posters, which include photographs and relevant information regarding some of the suspects, to all CIDG provincial offices in Region 12.

Sonza said they will soon distribute and post copies of the posters in various local police stations, public markets, barangay halls, transport terminals and other strategic public areas within the

Region 12 covers the provinces of South Cotabato, Sultan Kudarat, Sarangani, North Cotabato and the cities of General Santos, Koronadal, Tacurong, Kidapawan and Cotabato.

“We’re hoping to get tips or information from some of our residents who are familiar with these suspects and have had encounters with them during the past several months but were not aware that they’re suspects in the massacre,” he said.

Sonza said most of the suspects identified in the CIDG’s poster were members of the Civilian Volunteer Organization (CVO) in Maguindanao who were issued with warrants of arrest last March by Quezon City Regional Trial Court Branch 221 Judge Jocelyn Solis-Reyes.

The suspects were allegedly among the more than 100 armed men led by former Datu Unsay, Maguindanao Mayor Andal Ampatuan Jr. who reportedly led the armed men in killing the wife and relatives of his political rival, then vice mayor Esmael “Toto” Mangudadatu (now Maguindnao governor).

Sonza urged residents to immediately report to the CIDG or any law enforcement unit in the region any information regarding the whereabouts of the suspects.

“We don’t require the informant to directly turn in or point the location the suspect. They only need to provide us enough information that will lead to the arrest of any of the suspects,” he said.

If the information or tip eventually turns out positive and the identified suspect is arrested, he said the CIDG will immediately issue an affidavit to authorize the informant to receive the allocated reward money.

Governor Mangudadatu during his inaugural address on June 30 in Buluan, Maguindanao ordered the police to “enforce the law” by arresting the perpetrators of the massacre “who are still hiding” in some towns in Maguindanao.

The order was issued in the latter part of his inaugural address, where he also mentioned that each arrest has a corresponding reward of P250,000.

In a press conference after lunch, Mangudadatu told reporters that the reward money is what the CIDG had allocated.

“The warrants of arrest have been issued long ago,” he said, referring to the warrants issued by Judge Jocelyn Solis-Reyes against the 197 perpetrators, among them the Ampatuans and a still undetermined number of John Does.

Of the 197, 189 are still at large, again including members of the Ampatuan clan.

Of the 197 named suspects, eight are now detained: Datu Andal Ampatuan, Sr., his sons Andal Jr., Zaldy, Anwar and Sajid and son-in-law Akmad “Tato” Ampatuan; Tactan Dilo, Ismael Canabia and then Maguindanao PNP provincial director, Chief Insp. Sukarno Dikay. (Allen V. Estabillo/MindaNews)