GENERAL SANTOS CITY (MindaNews/12 November) – Police operatives in Sarangani Province arrested another former militiaman from Datu Unsay town in Maguindanao who was allegedly among the 189 persons identified by a Quezon City Regional Trial Court (RTC) as suspects in the Nov. 23, 2009 Ampatuan Massacre.
Senior Supt. Florendo Quidilla, Sarangani police director, confirmed late Thursday that Nasser Malaguial was nabbed by a police tracking team in a raid at his house in the coastal village of Gumasa in Glan town in Sarangani at around 6am last Wednesday.
He said the suspect, who carried the name Ramon Dadulo, was positively identified by an informant based on his photograph posted in the circulated “most wanted” list of massacre suspects.
“(Malaguial) was allegedly among the CVO (civilian volunteer organization) members who had direct participation in the massacre,” Quidilla said.
He said the suspect is currently undergoing interrogation at the Sarangani Provincial Police Office but will be later transferred to the custody of the Criminal Investigation and Detection Group-Region 12 headquarters at Camp Fermin Lira here.
In the massacre’s wanted poster, Malaguial was listed as a resident of Barangay Meta, Datu Unsay town in Maguindanao.
He was among those charged with 57 counts of murder and included in the warrant of arrest issued this year by Quezon City RTC Branch 221 Judge Jocelyn A Solis-Reyes in connection with the massacre of 58 people, including 30 journalists, in Sitio Masalay, Barangay Salman in Ampatuan, Maguindanao on Nov. 23, 2009.
The Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG), through DILG Memorandum Circular 2010-53, had offered a reward of P250,000 for the arrest of Malaguial, who was the third massacre suspect to be captured in Sarangani since September and the second in Glan town.
A joint police team nabbed last Sept. 2 fugitive Police Officer 1Arnulfo Ayunan Soriano in his hideout in Sitio Nama, Barangay Katubao in Kiamba town in Sarangani.
On Oct. 7, Sarangani police operatives arrested suspect Samsudin Daud, who was reportedly a former bodyguard of the principal suspect, former Datu Unsay, Maguindanao Mayor Andal Ampatuan Jr., in a dawn raid in Barangay Taluya in Glan.
Senior Insp. Joel Fuerte, acting Glan municipal police station chief, said Friday Malaguial’s arrest was mainly based on a tip provided by a local informant.
He said they subjected the suspect to surveillance for at least five months before they launched the raid last Wednesday morning.
“Based on the information we gathered from the area, he was residing there for almost a year now posing as a village medicine man,” Fuerte said.
In a brief interview with reporters, the suspect denied that he was Malaguial and the one identified in the list of suspects in the massacre.
“I’m innocent. I’m not the person on that list. I’ve never been to Maguindanao all my life,” he said in the vernacular.
The suspect claimed that before moving to Glan last year, he had resided in Malungon town in Sarangani and with his relatives in Purok Lanton, Barangay Apopong in this city.
But Fuerte branded the suspect’s claims as mere alibi saying they have evidences that could prove the latter’s real identity.
He said their informant issued an affidavit that Dadulo and Malaguial, who appeared to have similar features based on the photograph posted in the massacre’s wanted list, are “one and the same person.”
“After Daud was arrested last month, he suddenly disappeared from the area but came back a week later,” Fuerte said.
The Department of Justice earlier filed 57 counts of murder charges against Andal Jr., former Maguindanao Gov. Andal Sr., suspended Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao Gov. Zaldy Ampatuan, former acting Maguindanao Gov. Sajid Ampatuan, several other members of the clan and more than 180 civilian volunteers and militiamen in connection with the massacre.
A group of armed men allegedly led by Andal Jr. held and later killed members of the family of then Vice Mayor Mangudadatu, their lawyers and 32 media workers who were on their way to file the Vice Mayor’s certificate of candidacy for Maguindanao governor at the Commission on Elections provincial office in Shariff Aguak town.
Joint police, Army and civilian search and retrieval teams initially found at least 22 bodies scattered at a hilly portion of the massacre site and later retrieved 24 more remains from a shallow grave in the area. Some 11 more bodies were later retrieved from a second grave in the same site.
The remains of the 58th victim, Reynaldo Momay of the Midland Courier, have yet to be retrieved. Only his dentures have been found. (Allen V. Estabillo/MindaNews)