The upcoming gubernatorial race in Maguindanao is "expected to experience a highly political contest as 2 prominent clans, the Ampatuans and the Mangudadatus, are contesting for governorship in the province.”
This was said by Philippine National Police Director Andres Caro during his report in front of members of international media, Monday. He is the director of Police Regional Office (PRO) 12, the office in charge of investigating the Ampatuan massacre.
But the recent massacre, dubbed as the most gruesome election-related violence in the country and worst single-attack against members of the media, is not the first time Maguindanao Governor Andal Ampatuan Sr. sowed terror in the province. He has been attributed to acts of violence in Maguindanao, especially to those who tried to contest his power in the region. (Read: New clan war erupts in Maguindanao)
Background: Maguindanao before the November 23 massacre
Surab Abutasil is gunned down inside a restaurant in Shariff Aguak shortly before the elections. Abutasil is running against Ampatuan Sr. for Mayor of Magonoy and also a relative of Ampatuan Sr.’s first wife. Although Ampatuan Sr. is the primary suspect, charges filed against him did not prosper. (Read: Military-Sponsored Warlord)
Ampatuan Sr. is accused by the Candaos, a rival family of the Ampatuans, of murdering Abdul Candao, elder brother of former Maguindanao governor Zacaria Candao. Ampatuan defeated Zacaria in the 2001 gubernatorial race for the province. (Read: It’s all about power)
After winning his third and last term as governor in 2007, Ampatuan Sr. is no longer allowed to run in the 2010 elections—this opens the door for possible contenders.
The Mangudadatus travel to the Shariff Aguak municipality, along with 200 fully armed men. This is to inform Ampatuan Sr. that a member of their clan will vie for the gubernatorial post in the upcoming elections, according to an abs-cbnNEWS.com/Newsbreak military source that is familiar with politics in the area. Buluan Vice Mayor Ismael "Toto” Mangudadatu will rival the Ampatuans in the next gubernatorial race.
This displeased Ampatuan Sr., according to the source. The source adds that Ampatuan Sr. reportedly wants one of his sons to succeed him as provincial governor.
This is the start of the clash between the two clans. They were once close allies. Former Buluan mayor Pua Mangudadatu, father of Vice Mayor Mangudadatu, was one of the 4 key allies of the Ampatuan clan patriarch when he was still starting out in politics. (Read: All in the Family)
November 23: The day of the massacre
Toto Mangudadatu, fearing for his life because of death threats sent to him, sends his wife and other women relatives to file his certificate of candidacy for the gubernatorial post in his behalf in the Commission on Elections office in Maguindanao provincial capital of Shariff Aguak. Lawyers, supporters and media men are with them.
Senior Superintendent (PSSUPT) Abusama Maguid, Officer-in-charge of Maguindanao police provincial office, receives information that there is a bomb threat along the National Highway, particularly at Sitio Malating, Brgy. Salman in Ampatuan, Maguindanao.
Between 9:00-10:00 am
According to a police report, the 8-vehicle convoy of Mangudadatu’s party reaches Barangay Salman portion of the highway leading to Shariff Aguak. They are flagged down at a check point conducted by members of the Maguindanao police and Civilian Volunteer Organizations (CVO) along the highway.
Thereafter, the abduction occurs. From the checkpoint led by Police Inspector Saudi Mukamad of the 1507th RMG, the convoy is brought to a hilly portion about 2.5 kilometers away from the national highway.
Toto Mangudadatu receives a phone from his wife saying an armed group, supposedly of the Ampatuan clan, flagged down their convoy on their way to Shariff Aguak town. Her parting words over the phone are about the armed men slapping them around and commanding them to swallow the certificate of candidacy forms they brought.
According to a statement, PSSUPT Maguid receives another report from Police Chief Inspector Sukarno Dicay that there is a bomb threat along the national highway.
Around 11:00 am
The 64th Infantry Battalion (IB) of the Philippine Army receives information that a convoy of civilian is abducted by fully armed men in the national highway. The battalion immediately launches a rescue operation.
PSSUPT Maguid inspects the Sitio Malating portion of the national highway.
The troops reach Barangay Salman to meet with Chief Inspector Dicay, who heads the troops conducting checkpoints in the area, says he has no knowledge of the reported abduction conveyed to him by the troops.
The 64th IB troops advance eastward where the abducted civilians were reportedly brought. Troops conducting the search on foot meet 2 armed men with an M-16 rifle and a 12-gauge shotgun. They claim to be members of the Ampatuan, Maguindanao CVO. They are subsequently accosted for questioning at Batallion Tactical Command Post of the 64th IB. The men are identified as Esmail Canapia and Takpan Dilon.
Because of inconsistencies in their reports, four police officers Maguid, Dikay and Bakal, and Senior Inspector Rex Diongon are ordered restricted at the ARMM police headquarters while undergoing investigation.
Troops conducting the on-foot search found the crime scene or the surface scene.
Buluan Mayor Jong Mangudadatu, on board a private chopper, is looking for his family. He spots a number of vehicles so he lands near the site.
The 64th IB troops initially finds 21 cadavers: 15 female and 6 male. The cadavers have multiple gunshot wounds in different parts of their body. Later this afternoon, another cadaver is found in a nearby bridge.
Five vehicles (4 Toyota vans and a sport utility vehicle) are found by the investigation team in the surface crime scene. Other items found are:
- personal belongings
- assorted empty shells of firearms
- other documents
According to Police Director Caro, the area is immediately secured to preserve the crime scene. This is done in preparation for the arrival of the Philippine National Police Scene of the Crime Operatives (PNP-SOCO) team for proper investigation.
SOCO teams from PRO-12 arrive at the crime scene and started processing the 22 cadavers found.
President Arroyo orders the military and the police to immediately pursue the perpetrators of the gruesome massacre. In a statement, Arroyo directs the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) through acting Defense Secretary Norberto Gonzales and the police through Interior and Local Government Secretary Ronaldo Puno to order their units to "conduct immediate and relentless pursuit of the perpetrators, to secure the affected areas.”
Description: Watch the presentation prepared by the Philippine National Police on the initial findings and significant developments last November 23, 2009.
November 24, 2009
President Arroyo places provinces of Maguindanao and Sultan Kudarat and city of Cotabato under emergency rule (Presidential Proclamation 1946).
The SOCO continues search and investigation and processing of the crime scene. Troops, investigators, SOCO and forensic specialists augment to the SOCO team from PRO-12.
According to Police Director Caro, the PNP relieves key police officers in the ARMM, the provincial director of Maguindanao, the deputy provincial director (Chief Inspector Dicay) and the directors of the police maneuver groups in Maguindanao.
Additional PNP and AFP forces replace the ousted officers in the province. Implicated security forces are immediately taken into custody for investigation, says Caro.
The SOCO team finds 3 more grave sites in Sitio Malating aside from the surface crime scene found on the first day of investigation. The team is able to exhume 24 cadavers in the first grave site. The team will exhume grave sites 2 and 3 on the next day.
November 25, 2009
Grave site number 2 is exhumed by the investigation team. They recover 3 vehicles in the are: 1) Toyota Vios, 2) White L300 van with markings of the UNTV television network and 3) blue-gray Tamarraw FX.
They also recover 6 cadavers.
After a while, grave site 3 is exhumed and 5 cadavers are found.
The investigation team recovers a total of 57 cadavers from the crime scene.
Sketch of the crime scene prepared by the Philippine National Police
PNP spokesman Leonardo Espina announces that according to initial reports, the murdered convoy was stopped by a group led by Datu Unsay Mayor Andal Ampatuan Jr.
The CAFGUs at Baranagy Salaman Ampatuan are immediately turned over by the security forces to the investigators in connection with possible involvement with the incident.
The AFP accounted, deactivated, disarmed and submitted for investigation the 4 special citizen auxiliary army companies (estimated 437 persons by Department of Interior and Local Government) of the Ampatuans.
Description: List of names of found cadavers at the crime scene
November 26, 2009
Ampatuan Jr., who is implicated in the massacre, turns himself in to Presidential Adviser for Mindanao Affairs Jesus Dureza.
He is flown to General Santos City where he is questioned. He is received by Justice Secretary Agnes Devadera. Prosecutors, led by by Chief State Prosecutor Jovencito Zuño, conducts inquest proceedings.
At night time, Ampatuan Jr. arrives in Manila and is detained at the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI). He is charged with 7 counts of multiple murder charges.
DILG Secretary Puno reveals that the entire Ampatuan clan will undergo investigation for their alleged role in the massacre. In a press conference, Puno says that aside from Ampatuan Jr., the Department of Justice listed 4 other people are suspects in the crime: Maguindanao police director PSSUPT Maguid, Shariff Aguak police chief inspector Sukarno Dicay, a certain SPO2 Badawi Bakal and Inspector Diongon. The 4 are implicated based on statements of alleged survivors of the massacre.
(Reports of armed movements and closing of local offices are narrated by DILG Secretary Puno and PNP PRO-12 director Caro. Both said that events—after Ampatuan Jr. was arrested and before December 4—are the basis for the declaration of Martial law. The following are considered overt acts of rebellion, according to Puno.)
Armed movements between November 26-November 29, 2009
Caro reports that local government offices in Maguindanao are ordered closed. Local government officials refuse to discharge their functions, which hindered the investigation and prosecution teams from performing their tasks.
He adds that the local civil registrar refuses to accept the death certificates of the victims, purportedly upon the order of Maguindanao governor Ampatuan Sr.
There has been non-appearance of judges in local courts—thereby depriving the course of legal remedies and prosecutorial responsibilities that is the issuance of search and arrest warrants.
The Supreme Court calls in 2 presiding judges from different provinces. The normal judicial proceedings are not carried out because of threats to their lives. This prompted the government to change the venue of the criminal cases after the information have been filed.
Duly verified information is disclosed to the PRO-12 investigating team that the Ampatuan group has been behind the closing of government offices, the refusal of government officials to discharge their functions and the simultaneous non-appearance of judges in local courts.
Armed movements November 29, 2009 to December 3, 2009
Armed groups, that are considered rebel groups by the PNP and the DILG, and their active movements in Maguindanao are confirmed by PRO-12 sources.
PRO-12 team reports that the Ampatuans consolidated a group of rebels consisting of 2,400 plus heavy armed men. One thousand one hundred sixty of them are strategically deployed in Maguindanao.
Validated information gathered by the PRO-12 team are as follows:
- There are around 500 rebels with 2 armored vehicles in an offensive position in 2 towns in Ampatuan and a town in Mamasapano.
- A group with more or less 200 armed men move from Magonoy, Shariff Aguak is also in offensive position.
- More or less 80 fully armed rebels are in Tuka, Mamasapano.
- More or less 50 armed rebels led by a former Moro National Liberation Front commander are in offensive position in Rajah Buayan.
- More or less 70 fully armed men with 2 M-16 light machine guns remain in offensive position in 2 barangays in the Datu Unsay municipality near the General Santos City national highway.
- Armed men with 4 M-16 light machine guns in offensive position remain in the upper portion of Datu Unsay.
- Kagi Akman Ampatuan is sited in the municipality of Sultan sa Barongis with 400 armed rebels and locals hear him say: "Patayan na kung patayan.”
- More or less a hundred armed men led by an identified killer in the massacre is sited in the boundary of Rajah Buayan and Sultan sa Barongis. The alleged killer’s group is armed with a 90-millimeter recoilless rifle, 1 calibre-50 machine gun, 2 calibre-30 light machine guns, 2 60-millimter mortars and a folded rifle.
According to Puno, these armed men are concentrated in municipalities of Maguindanao which are political strongholds of the Ampatuans:
Shariff Saydona Mustapha
General S.K. Pendatun
Datu Hoffer Ampatuan
Datu Anggal Matimbang
Sultan sa Barongis
December 1, 2009
The DOJ files 25 counts of murder against Ampatuan Jr.
December 2, 2009
The police discover large arms cache from a vacant lot at least 500 meters away from the mansion of Governor Ampatuan Sr.
December 3, 2009
PNP chief Director General Jesus Verzosa announces in a press conference in Camp Crame that he received a report from the field that a 60 mm mortar is recovered during the raid but has yet to confirm where exactly it was found. Verzosa announces that search warrants for the houses of Ampatuan Jr., Maguindanao Gov. Ampatuan Sr. and Akman Ampatuan are issued by Judge Francis Palmones of Kidapawan City Regional Trial Court.
December 4, 2009
PRO-12 reports that the following items have been found in Ampatuan Jr.’s compound in Shariff Aguak:
1) Four 9-millimeter pistols
2) Seven caliber-45 pistols
3) Twenty assorted high powered firearms
4) A barrel of 15 sniper rifles
5) Three M16 machine guns
6) One 90-millimeter recoilless rifle
7) Four 60-millimeter mortars
8) One 81-millimeter mortar
9) More than 100,000 assorted ammunition and magazines
10) Uniforms of the AFP and the PNP
11) Armored vehicles equipped with caliber-guns and machine guns. Painted on the vehicles is the word "Pulisiya” (police)
December 5, 2009: martial law in Maguindanao
At 7:00 am, Executive Secretary Eduardo Ermita announces Proclamation No. 1959 declaring a state of martial law and suspending the privilege of the writ of habeas corpus in the province of Maguindanao, except for certain areas identified as bailiwicks of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) separatists.
"Based on Proclamation 1959, we are here to formally take over the provincial capitol. By the time, all municipal halls have been secured by the armed forces and police forces in order to ensure that these facilities will be secure,” announces Lt. Gen. Raymundo Ferrer, AFP chief Eastern Mindanao Command, at a press conference hours after martial law was declared.
Ferrer adds that he has been ordered to temporarily take charge of the whole province until DILG Secretary Puno and government agencies "come up with new set up for the local government.” Warrantless searches are also being conducted in residences of members of the Ampatuan clan.
Maguindanao gov. Ampatuan Sr., ARMM Gov. Zaldy Ampatuan, Maguindanao Vice Governor Akmad Ampatuan Sir, Shariff Aguak Mayor Anwar Ampatuan and Sangguniang Bayan member of Shariff Aguak Cahoner Ampatuan are arrested. Local officials arrested are: Paisal Sulaik, a Sangguniang Bayan member of Shariff Aguak; Keise Usman, regional secretary of agriculture of the ARMM and Kabuntalan Emblawa, regional environment secretary of the ARMM.
Ampatuan Sr. and Zaldy Ampatuan are brought to Davao City and General Santos City, respectively.