OIC mayor of Maguindanao town assumes post

COTABATO CITY (MindaNews/22 March) – The town named after one of the principal suspects in the worst election related violence in recent history has a new mayor, officials said.

Number 1 Councilor Monawara Ampatuan assumed office Wednesday as OIC mayor after taking her oath before Maguindanao Gov. Esmael Toto Mangudadatu.

This after elected Mayor Bai Reshal Ampatuan and Vice Mayor Janine Mamalapat went on absence without official leave for the past six months, creating a vacuum in the local government operations.

Bai Reshal is the wife of Datu Andal “Unsay” Ampatuan Jr., one of the principal accused in the Nov. 23, 2009 massacre in Sitio Masalay, Barangay Salman in Ampatuan town.

Early this year, the mayor herself was included in the list of 50 more suspects who were indicted for the massacre that left 58 people dead, 32 of them media workers. Among the victims were Mangudadatu’s wife and other family members.

Forty-three complainants along with witnesses said the suspects were involved either in the planning, execution, or covering up of the bloodbath.

Mangudadatu said the Datu Unsay town council has passed a resolution endorsing Monawara Ampatuan to assume the top post which the Department of Interior and Local Government has approved.

The OIC mayor said she will attend to the thousands of civilians in her town who were displaced by the ongoing “all-out offensive” against the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (Ferdinandh B. Cabrera/MindaNews)