MANILA, Philippines - Forty-three persons – including a politician about to file her and her brother’s certificates of candidacy (COCs), as well as journalists covering the event – were confirmed killed when heavily armed men waylaid the group on its way to the local Commission on Elections (Comelec) office in Maguindanao.
Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) Public Information Office chief Lt. Col. Romero Brawner confirmed that as of yesterday afternoon, ground troops had recovered 21 bodies – 13 women and eight men – from the massacre site in Barangay Saniag, Ampatuan town.
Supporters of Buluan Vice Mayor Toto Mangudadatu and Mangudadatu Vice Mayor Eden Mangudadatu and their
companions were on their way to the Comelec office to file COCs at around 10:30 a.m. when they were blocked at a checkpoint manned by some 100 Maguindanao police personnel and armed civilian volunteers allegedly led by Datu Unsay town mayor Datu Andal Ampatuan Jr.
Ampatuan was not available for comment.
Reports from the Army’s 6th Infantry Division reported that a certain Police Senior Inspector Dicay of Shariff Aguak accompanied Ampatuan. Three vehicles owned by the Mangudadatu’s were found burned.
Toto Mangudadatu, who was not with the convoy, is reportedly eyeing the gubernatorial seat in the May 2010 elections and had asked his wife to file his COC.
Aside from Bai Eden, the other victims were identified as Genalyn Tiamzon-Mangudadatu, the vice mayor’s wife who was raped before being killed; lawyers Connie Brizuela and Cynthia Oquendo and her father, Bai Farinah Mangudadatu; Faridah Sabdulah; Manguba Bai Mangudadatu, Toto’s aunt; Farida Mangudadatu, Toto’s youngest sister.
The journalists were identified as Ian Toblan, Leah Dalmacio, Gina dela Cruz, Joy Duhay, Andy Teodoro, Mac-Mac Areola, Bart Maravilla of Bombo Radyo Koronadal, Henry Araneta of dzRH Cotabato, Bong Reblando of Manila Bulletin and Neneng Montano of local radio dxCP.
Also reported killed were Rasul Daud, driver of Mangudadatu, Wahida Ali Kaliman, Farida Sabdula, Zorayda Vernan, Victor Nuñez, Zaida Abdul, Pinky Balayman, Ella Balayman, Rahima Piopo, Abdullah Hajji, Patrick Pamansan, Meriam Calicol, a certain Unto and a certain Chito, and eight others who were not included in the list.
Toto said his wife and her companions left Buluan town at about 9 a.m. on board several vehicles and were flagged down by armed men at Barangay Kauran in Ampatuan, Maguindanao some 30 minutes later.
“Six members of the group that was to bring my certificate of candidacy to Shariff Aguak were beheaded by the gunmen that flagged them down at a portion of a highway near Shariff Aguak. The police and the military have to do something,” Mangudadatu told Catholic station dxND in Kidapawan City.
“I opted not to provide armed security escorts to the group to avoid possible tension during the filing of my COC,” he added.
The Mangudadatu clan is known to have a long-running feud with the family of Maguindanao’s incumbent Gov. Andal Ampatuan Sr., who police said is known to have his own private army.
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