MANILA – The Philippine National Police-Criminal Investigation and Detection Group (PNP-CIDG) on Thursday announced the arrest of another suspect in the 2009 Maguindanao massacre in Cotabato City.
In a statement sent to reporters, the CIDG said Datu Harris Ampatuan Macapendeng, the incumbent Barangay Chairperson of Tuayan, Datu Hoffer town in Maguindanao province with a monetary reward of PHP300,000 under DILG Memo Circular 2010-76, has been arrested by personnel of the CIDG Maguindanao Field Unit on Wednesday afternoon at the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM) Compound, Cotabato City.
Joint elements of the local police served the warrant of arrest for the crime of 43 counts of murder issued by Judge Jocelyn Solis Reyes of Branch 221 of the Regional Trial Court (RTC) of Quezon City against the suspect.
Macapendeng was part of the Ampatuan private army and was among those who attended the meetings where the Ampatuans planned the massacre and participated in the murder of 58 people on that fateful day in November of 2009.
“The arrest of Macapendeng is a confirmation that the law and justice never sleep. In whatever condition is ready to step up and enforce the law so that offenders will be held accountable and justice is served for the grieving victims and their families,” the CIDG said in a statement.
Earlier, Undersecretary Joel Sy Egco, Presidential Task Force on Media Security (PTFoMS) Executive Director, said the task force is relentless in monitoring the manhunt operations against the suspects still in hiding.
“Our government will not rest until all suspects behind this heinous crime are arrested. We are relentless in seeing to it that justice is meted to these perpetrators whatever it takes,” Egco said.
Egco earlier issued a directive to form Special Tracker Teams to hunt the remaining suspects during a virtual meeting with the officers of Maguindanao province on March 1, 2021.
The Quezon City RTC in December 2019 convicted Datu Andal Ampatuan Jr. and Zaldy Ampatuan, the masterminds of the infamous massacre, and sentenced them to reclusion perpetua without parole.
A total of 28 other co-accused including police officers were also convicted of 57 counts of murder and sentenced to 40 years, while 15 other accused were sentenced to six to 10 years for being accessories to the crime.
Egco said the conviction was a product of the immense support given by President Rodrigo Roa Duterte to the victims of the massacre.
He said the massacre happened during the time of President Gloria Arroyo, and despite his numerous promises, no verdict happened during the time of President Benigno “Noynoy” Aquino. It was only through the political will of Duterte that justice was finally achieved.
Among those killed in the massacre, dubbed as the deadliest attack on media workers in recent history, are 31 journalists who accompanied the convoy of Esmael "Toto" Mangudadatu who then filed his candidacy for Maguindanao governor in the 2010 elections. (PNA)