Cop tagged in massacre yields

PHILIPPINE NEWS SERVICE — A JUNIOR Philippine National Police officer implicated in the massacre of 57 persons, mostly women and journalists in Maguindanao last November 23, surrendered yesterday to authorities in General Santos City.

Inspector Saudi Mukamad, the officer-in-charge of the 1507th Provincial Mobile Group of the Maguindanao Provincial Police Office who was relieved shortly after the carnage, is now under the custody of the Criminal Investigation and Detection Group in General Santos City, said PNP chief Director General Jesus A. Verzosa.

Verzosa earlier asked Mukamad to yield and answer the charges against him or he will be declared AWOL and dismissed from the service.

Mukamad was turned over by his lawyer Emmanuel Fontanilla to Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao Police Regional Office officer-in-charge Senior Supt. Bienvenido Latag and his deputy, Senior Supt. Sonny David.

The two ARMM police officials fetched the officer from the Gonzales Building on Pioneer Avenue and later turned him over to the local CIDG.

Mukamad was identified by witnesses as the leader of one group of policemen that set up a checkpoint near the area where the 57 victims were abducted and later executed allegedly upon the orders of now jailed Datu Unsay Mayor Andal Ampatuan, Jr.

A number of Army soldiers, policemen and members of the Civilian Volunteer Organization believed to be on the payroll of the Ampatuans were implicated in the gruesome case. The soldiers were assigned either with the Army’s 64th, 57th and 75th Infantry Battalions or the 150th Infantry Brigade.

Twenty-three suspected gunmen loyal to the Ampatuan clan have surrendered and turned in their weapons, Malacañang said yesterday.

Press Secretary Cerge Remonde said the men were likely part of the 3,000-member private army of the Ampatuan family, which is accused of mounting an armed rebellion in Maguindanao following the massacre of 57 people.

The gunmen were detained in Rajah Buayan town on Thursday after military and police units tasked with enforcing martial law seized more firearms from the home of the detained clan patriarch, Andal Ampatuan, Sr., Remonde said.

“Later in the day, 23 renegade CVO (civilian volunteer organisation) members in Rajah Buayan surrendered and turned in their weapons. They are now being processed for possible filing of appropriate cases against them,” he said.

The CVO is a volunteer force of police aides whose members help the regular forces fight local insurgencies.