5 Maguindanao mayors face raps for alleged support to BIFF

CAGAYAN DE ORO CITY (MindaNews/14 August) — Administrative charges will be filed against five town mayors in Maguindanao for their alleged support to the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Movement who staged attacks against Army detachments along a major highway last week.

Department of Interior and Local Government Secretary Jesse Robredo said the mayors will also be investigated for abandoning their posts when BIFF rebels attack their towns along the Cotabato-Isulan highway.

The five mayors were identified as Mayor Datu Saudi Sheam Ampatuan of Saudi Ampatuan town, Mayor Bai Bongbong Midtimbang Ampatuan of Datu Hoffer town, Mayor Bai Reshal Santiago Ampatuan of Datu Unsay, Mayor Bai Zandra Sinsuat Ampatuan of Saydona town, and Vice Mayor Kanor Ampatuan of Salibo town who replaced Akmad Ampatuan who has gone into hiding after being implicated in the 2009 Ampatuan massacre.

All of the five mayors did not show up at the meeting yesterday called by Robredo at the North Cotabato provincial capitol in Barangay Amas, Kidapawan City.

Robredo said the Maguindanao provincial government led by Gov. Toto Magugundatu will take the lead in the investigation of administrative cases against the mayors.

“We do not want to be seen that this is a political vendetta but provincial governments have their machinery in investigating administrative cases against erring elected officials,” Robredo said.

He said their investigation will focus on the whereabouts of the town mayors during the attacks by BIFF rebels.

“We are also interested whether they gave financial support to the rebels,” the secretary said.

Army officials said they were surprised that the BIFF rebels who launched simultaneous attacks on Army detachments last week were well-equipped.

“They could have good logistic support from somewhere in order to stage that attacks almost simultaneously,” Col. Prudencio Asto, spokesperson of the 6th Infantry Division said.

Von Al Haq, spokesperson of the MILF  Bangsamoro Islamic Armed Forces, estimated the BIFF had about 200-300 fighters when its leader Umbra Karo broke ties with them last year. (Froilan Gallardo/MindaNews)