Another suspect in Maguindanao massacre falls

KORONADAL CITY (MindaNews/16 Feb)—Another suspect in the grisly massacre of 58 persons including 32 from the media,  on November 23, 2009 in Ampatuan town in Maguindanao was arrested before dawn Wednesday, the regional Philippine National Police said.

Chief Supt. Gil Meneses, Southwestern Mindanao police director, identified the suspect as Nasser Esmael, also known as Nasrudin Guipal Esmael.

Esmael carries a bounty of P250,000 for his arrest.

Meneses said the arrest of the suspect was carried out by elements from the Maguindanao provincial police command, the Region 12 Police Intelligence Division, the Directorate for Integrated Police Operations- West Mindanao, and the Regional Public Safety Battalion 12  4th Maneuver Company.

“The 33-year old suspect was inside his house when the arrest was made. The manhunt against Nasser Esmael and other suspect was in coordination with the Maguindanao PNP and other government forces,” Meneses said in a statement.

The suspect was arrested in Barangay Meta, Datu Unsay town in Maguindanao at around 1:15 am Wednesday, police said.

Chief Insp. Jomar Alexis Yap, Southwestern Mindanao police spokesperson, said Esmael was among the suspects charged with 56 counts of murder in connection with the Maguindanao carnage.

He was arrested by virtue of the arrest warrant issued by Judge Jocelyn A. Solis of the Regional Trial Court Branch 221 under the National Capital Judicial Region.

Asked if Esmael is a militiaman loyal to the Ampatuan clan, Yap did not answer categorically. H said  “most of the suspects are either CVO (civilian volunteer’s organization) members and PNP members.”

Two militiamen and a policeman allegedly involved in the Maguindanao massacre have been  captured in Region 12 since September, the police spokesperson recalled.

Yap said the General Santos City Police office is now in custody of the suspect for booking and documentation procedures, after which he will be transferred to a jail. Six members of the Ampatuan clan, including the patriarch, are detained at maximum security in  Camp Bagong Diwa in Taguig City:  former three-term Maguindanao governor Andal S. Ampatuan, Sr. and his sons Andal Jr., Zaldy, Anwar and Sajid and son-in-law Akmad nicknamed Tato.

Andal, Jr.  purportedly led about a hundred armed men in stopping a convoy led by the wife of then Buluan Vice Mayor Esmael Mangudadatu, then on their way to file at the  provincial office of the Commission on Elections, his certificate of candidacy for governor. Five other persons in two vehicles that happened to pass at the wrong time, were also stopped. All of them were then herded towards a hilly portion some 3.5 kilometers from the highway, where they were killed, some of them buried in mass graves.

Mangudadatu  won the gubernatorial contest in the May 2010 elections. (Bong S. Sarmiento/MindaNews)