Search for Ampatuan firearms used in massacre fails

() - February 25, 2011 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines –  Authorities failed in recent raids on properties reportedly owned by the Ampatuan clan in Maguindanao province to recover firearms allegedly used in the massacre of 57 persons in November 2009, Justice Secretary Leila de Lima said yesterday.

De Lima said she wants the joint team from the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) Death Investigation Division and the Philippine National Police’s Criminal Investigation and Detection Group to explain why there were no firearms found at four sites that later were dug up, when the first two sites yielded skeletal remains of two alleged victims of “chainsaw killings” allegedly perpetrated by the Ampatuans.

The first site was discovered at the cornfield plantation in Sitio Tabadiya, Barangay Timbangan. The second site was later on found in Barangay Limpongo, Datu Hoffer town last Feb. 18.

De Lima said it was possible that the informants were unable to pinpoint the exact locations of the firearms cache or they may have been moved since it has been more than a month since the informants told the team about the location.

She said they will also look into the possibility that the operations were unsuccessful because the tips were leaked, but added that this angle is “very remote” since only a few people knew about the operations.

De Lima said it is important to find the cache of firearms, which informants said include some of those used in the Maguindanao massacre.

“We are interested whether they are connected or related to massacre or not. As you know only a few firearms have tested positive in ballistic test in the massacre case,” she said. “So if we get those firearms, we will turn them over to the SOCO (Scene of the Crime Operatives) for testing.”

At the trial of the Maguindanao massacre case, NBI medico-legal officer Dr. Ricardo Rodaje testified at the Quezon City Regional Trial Court Branch 221 yesterday that a gunshot to the head of lawyer Concepcion Brizuela destroyed her skull, leaving only the skin on her face attached to her neck.

Private prosecutor Prima Jesusa Quinsayas said Brizuela’s skull was “so mangled” that authorities initially thought she had been beheaded.

Meanwhile, unidentified attackers torched a Nissan Terrano and some parts of a mansion owned by former Maguindanao governor Andal Ampatuan Sr. in Marfori subdivision, Davao City before dawn yesterday.

Fire officials said a bottle of gasoline was ignited and thrown under the vehicle, parked at the mansion’s garage, but added that it would be impossible for somebody from the outside to throw the bottle under the car. The blaze destroyed the mansion’s living and dining rooms.

The incident reportedly took place as Ampatuan’s wife was in Manila to take care of her husband, who has been detained at Camp Bagong Diwa while he is being tried as a prime suspect in the massacre.

– Edu Punay, Reinir Padua, Edith Regalado

AMPATUAN ANDAL AMPATUAN SR. BARANGAY LIMPONGO BARANGAY TIMBANGAN CAMP BAGONG DIWA CONCEPCION BRIZUELA CRIMINAL INVESTIGATION AND DETECTION GROUP DATU HOFFER DAVAO CITY DE LIMA MAGUINDANAO
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