Maguindanao board trashes complaint vs Datu Unsay mayor

KORONADAL CITY (MindaNews/28 February) — The Sangguniang Panlalawigan of Maguindanao has dismissed the administrative complaint filed before it against Datu Unsay Mayor Reshal S. Ampatuan for lack of merit “in addition to being maliciously instituted”.

The Cotabatao City-based The Mindanao Cross, a weekly newspaper owned by the Oblates of Mary Immaculate,  published in full page last Saturday the SP’s resolution favoring Ampatuan.

Reshal is the wife of Andal U. Ampatuan, Jr., a principal suspect in the November 23, 2009 massacre in Ampatuan town that killed 58 people, including 32 media workers.

Maguindanao Vice Gov. Ismael Mastura and eight board members also thrashed the complaint filed by provincial police director Senior Supt. Marcelo Pintac against Ampatuan because of “insufficiency in form and substance.”

“After hearing the arguments and seeing the documentary evidence of Mayor Reshal S. Ampatuan, this August Body finds that there are no evidence and there are no basis (sic) to support the matters against her,” the resolution stated.

Pintac’s complaint against Ampatuan—illegal possession of firearms and ammunition and absenteeism– was earlier referred by Maguindanao Gov. Esmael Mangudadatu to the provincial board for action.

On the absenteeism issue, the provincial board ruled that the proper investigating body is the Department of Interior and Local Government.

In a memorandum to the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao regional police office dated January 10, 2011, Pintac alleged that Ampatuan “was remiss in her duty, failing to report to her office from July 15, 2010 to January 10, 2011.”

On the alleged illegal possession of firearms and ammunition, the Sangguniang Panlalawigan said the Department of Justice has jurisdiction over the matter.

It may be recalled that last January 13, police and military personnel seized six MP-5 firearms, two M-16 rifles and several rounds of ammunition from Ampatuan’s security escorts, who were reportedly removing the streamers hung by a rival political camp at the fences of Datu Unsay municipal compound.

Police said the bodyguards of Ampatuan have no authority to carry firearms because the temporary license to operate of their security agency, the Savior Weapons and Tactics Security Agency, already expired last January 6.

Ampatuan earlier cried harassment apparently targeting clan members, several of whom were implicated in the November 23, 2009 massacre in Ampatuan town, the worst political killing in the country and the largest single deadly attack against the press anywhere else.

Her husband, former Datu Unsay mayor Andal Jr. allegedly headed some 100 gunmen in stopping a convoy and later herding it off to a hilly patch where the victims were brutally killed.

The convoy was to file the certificate of candidacy of Mangudadatu, who eventually won the gubernatorial race, in Shariff Aguak town. The slain media workers were there to cover the filing of the certificate.

Besides Ampatuan Jr., other family members who have been jailed for their alleged involvement in the massacre are the clan’s patriarch, former Maguindanao governor Andal S. Ampatuan, Sr., Zaldy U. Ampatuan, suspended governor of the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao, former Shariff Aguak mayor Anwar Ampatuan, former Maguindanao vice governor Sajid Ampatuan, and former Mamasapano  mayor Akmad Ampatuan. (Bong Sarmiento/MindaNews)