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80 Maguindanao massacre suspects still at large

More than 10 years after the brutal death of 58 people in what is now infamously known as the Maguindanao massacre, more or less 80 respondents are yet to be accounted by government’s law enforcement agencies.

Why are they still unaccounted?

Lt. Gen. Camilo Cascolan, deputy chief for Operations of the Philippine National Police (PNP), said they have not been remiss in running after all the perpetrators of the massacre of 58 people, which include 32 journalists, in Maguindanao.

But he admitted that that there are some factors that make it difficult to account some of those who remain in hiding.

“It’s difficult to explain it. But you can take it from this: If it is your turf, nobody can enter your turf,” said Cascolan.

It is the PNP’s Criminal Investigation and Detection Group (CIDG) which primarily runs after Maguindanao massacre suspects in coordination with the military.

Most of those arrested in the follow-up operations were collared in the central part of Maguindanao.

Police sources said that some of the massacre suspects sought refuge in the camps of Moro rebels while some joined the bandit groups in central part of Mindanao that include the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF).

This is the reason, according to police sources, why some of the respondents remain at large.

But Cascolan said the PNP is continuously conducting manhunt on the respondents who remain in hiding based on the intelligence report that they would receive.

“There is this existing order to commanders on the ground to continue with the manhunt for them to catch these suspects,” said Cascolan.

A total of 117 people were arrested in the past 10 years, some of them are policemen who were accused of being in cahoots with the Ampatuans who used to be a powerful political clan in Maguindanao.

Of those arrested, 15 are members of the Ampatuan clan while most of those charged are members of their private army.

Judge Jocelyn Solis-Reyes of the Quezon City Regional Trial Court Brach 221 is set to promulgate the infamous Maguindanao massacre case on Thursday, December 19. (Aaron Recuenco) 

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