Injured Ampatuan grandson flown to Manila

COTABATO CITY (MindaNews/01 April) – An Ampatuan grandson who went in hiding after the November 23, 2009 massacre and got injured in a bomb blast in Mamasapano, Maguindanao on March 25, was flown to Manila Saturday and is now in a government hospital there, his lawyer said.

Kirby Matalam, lawyer of  Anwar “Datu Ipi” Ampatuan, Jr. told MindaNews Sunday that his client is now in Manila but did not reply when asked in which government hospital he was brought. Earlier, Ampatuan’s Manila-based lawyer asked the court to allow his transfer “to  the Philippine General Hospital or any other government hospital in Metro Manila which has neurosurgeons and sufficient medical facilities.”

Judge Jocelyn Solis-Reyes of Quezon City issued the commitment order Friday directing the Criminal Investigation and Detection Group to bring Ampatuan to a government hospital in Manila.

The order came on the same day Shariff Aguak mayor Zahara Upam Ampatuan, mother of the Datu Ipi expressed disappointment that his transfer to a private hospital in Davao City on Thursday did not push through.

Listed as one of the suspects in the November 23, 2009 massacre of 58 persons, 32 of them from the media, Datu Ipi was injured in a bomb explosion at around 2 p.m. Sunday, March 25, just as the pumpboat he boarded was about to leave the docking area in Barangay Daladap, Mamasapano town, Maguindanao.

Datu Ipi, who went in hiding after the massacre, was elected number one councilor of Shariff Aguak town in the May 2010 elections. His father, Anwar Ampatuan, Sr., presently detained along with the Ampatuan patriarch and his siblings in Taguig, was elected vice mayor. The elder Ampatuan was mayor for three terms until his arrest in connection with the massacre on December 5, 2009.

Upon learning her son was injured, Mayor Ampatuan immediately phoned the military commander in her area, Col. Mayoralgo dela Cruz, and offered to surrender her son, at the same time requesting that he be rushed to a Cotabato City hospital.

The mayor on Friday expressed concern about the “worsening condition” of her son who, she said, requires a neurosurgeon.

The teary-eyed mother told reporters, “sana mapagbigyan lang yung nanay na mapagamot ang anak, masakit yun eh kahit sinong nanay, nadedelay yung oras at nakikita mo ang anak mo na hirap na hirap na, sabi ng doctor paralyzed na ang katawan nya at delikado na aakyat hanggang utak niya, apela ko kay Judge solis nanay ka rin po, humihingi ako ng tulong sa inyo na ipagamot ang anak ko, total sinurender ko naman po eh, saka na niya haharapin ang mga bintang sa kanya kapag nagamot na siya” (I hope they accede to the request of a mother who wants her child treated. Delay is painful for any mother, especially if you see your son is suffering. The doctor said his body is paralyzed and it may reach his brain. My appeal to Judge Solis is, ‘you’re also a mother, I am asking for your help to have my child treated after all, I already surrendered him. Let him face the charges against him after his treatment).

Meanwhile, Maguindanao Governor Esmael Mangudadatu appealed to the Moro Islamic Liberarion Front (MILF) not to provide sanctuary to the suspects of the 2009 massacre. Mangudadatu’s wife, sister and other relatives were among the 58 victims of the massacre.

“Ako nananawagan sa pamunuan ng MILF na tulungan kami na mabigyan ng hustisya ang pagkamatay ng 58 victims ng massacre, katulad nito na nakapuslit na naman si Kumander Dagadas. Sabi nila may may korte daw sila. Dapat masampahan din ng kaso sa kanilang korte, nananawagan ako sa top leaders ng MILF na kung may nagkakanlong o nagtatago dyan sa kanila ay dapat po i-coordinate nila ang gobyerno o aking tanggapan, tutal nasa peace process naman tayo ngayon” (I appeal to the MILF leadership to help us obtain justice for the 58 massacre victim, like Kumander Dagadas slipping through. They said they have their own court. They should file charges against him in their own court. I am appealing to the MILF’s top leaders that if there is someone who is giving sanctuary or allowing suspects to hide in their areas, to please coordinate with government or my office. After all, we are in a peace process,” he said.

In the March 26 bomb explosion, the boat operator was killed while six others were  injured, including the young Ampatuan and one Kumander Dagadas, whom the police identified as a commander of the MILF’s 118th base Command.

MILF spokesperson Von Al Haq confirmed to  MindaNews on March 26 that Dagadas is an MILF commander but added that “as to other details, we are closely investigating the incident for us to come up with an accurate report behind the incident.”

On April 1, Al Haq told MindaNews the initial investigation showed it was an ambush by an armed group he declined to name. He said the armed group placed the bomb at the riverside where the pumpboat would definitely pass.

He said both Dagadas and the young Ampatuan,  who are “closely related to each other by consanguinity,” were the targets of the bombing.

Military sources told MindaNews Dagadas, who is related to  the Shariff Aguak mayor, is an uncle of the young Ampatuan. (Ferdinandh B. Cabrera, with a report from Carolyn O. Arguillas/MindaNews)