Cop participates in massacre for P15T-A A +A
Wednesday, October 27, 2010
MANILA -- A police officer who was implicated in last year's Maguindanao massacre told the court Wednesday that he was paid P15,000 by a powerful Muslim clan to help carry out the country's worst election-related violence.
Police Inspector Rex Ariel Diongon, director of the 1508th Maguindanao Police Provincial Mobile Group (PPMG), pleaded "not guilty" to multiple murder charges last July 28 and turned himself into a state witness.
He took the witness stand Wednesday and testified against the prime suspect, Andal Ampatuan Jr., who has been detained and is now facing multiple murder charges in connection with the November 23, 2009 carnage.
Diongon said he personally attended the planning of the killings at the house of the clan patriarch, Andal Ampatuan Sr., after Chief Inspector Sukarno Dicay ordered him to be there.
The meeting, he said, took place in the morning of November 19, 2009 at the patriarch's residence in Shariff Aguak town locally known as "Base 1".
Also attending the gathering were Dicay and directors of the 1507 and 1506 PPMGs identified as certain Inspectors Mariga and Mukamad and Andal Jr.'s brother, Datu Kanor Ampatuan.
Diongon said Andal Jr. at one point asked him: "Do you know who our enemies are? Are you capable of killing them?"
He recalled answering "yes," but said he only did so out of fear. He said he was aware that Andal Jr. was referring to the Mangudadatus, who were rivals of the Ampatuan clan in the province.
Diongon learned from Dicay that the 1508 PPMG was required to conduct checkpoint operations in Sitio Malating, Shariff Aguak, to stop the convoy of the Mangudadatus.
He said Andal Jr. ended the meeting by handing out undetermined amounts of money to Dicay, Mariga and Mukamad to sustain their personnel who would carry out the checkpoint operations.
"I was given P15,000, which I used to buy viands for my men," he said. "Andal Jr. gave Major Dicay additional cash after seeing this."
He noted that his group manned a checkpoint in Sitio Malating, as ordered by Dicay, from the afternoon of November 19 up to November 23.
When the convoy carrying Esmael Mangudadatu's wife and relatives, as well as supporters and journalists, Diongon said his men stopped their vehicles, allowing Andal Jr. and his gunmen to take the passengers away.
He also narrated to the court how the prime suspect in the killings abused his victims.
Diongon said the policemen manning the checkpoint last November 23 were comprised of some 10 members of the 1508 PPMG, 15 cops from "augmentation" units and between 20 and 30 civilian volunteer organization (CVO) members under the command of Datu Kanor.
When Andal Jr. arrived on the scene, he ordered the people on the convoy, who were herded into an abandoned store at the side of the road to lie facedown on the ground.
"Andal Jr. spotted a man among the victims and used his M-16 to poke the man's body," Diongon said.
The witness said he recognized the man as one Andres Teodoro, a local reporter.
"Once he is finished with a victim, one of Andal Jr.'s men would resume the beating," he noted, citing that the prime suspect brought with him some 100 men, all armed with long firearms.
He also recalled a female member of the convoy whom Andal Jr. dragged to the road after she refused to empty her pocket.
Diongon said he was able to identify the woman later as Bai Genalyn, the wife of Mangudadatu.
The police officer's testimony Wednesday backed the statements of other witnesses in the trial who said Andal Jr. and his armed followers forced the victims out of their vehicles, beat them up, despite pleas for mercy, before taking them to a hilly area where they were gunned down.
Abubakar Ismael, a prosecution witness, told the court last week how Andal Jr. ordered his men to fire at the victims.
The prime suspect, however, repeatedly denied involvement in the massacre that killed 57 people. He was not present during Wednesday's hearing.
MMDJ Deputy Jail Warden, Senior Inspector Adelo Natividad, told the court that Andal Jr. "complained of dizziness" a couple of hours before the start of the trial.
He said the in-house jail doctor said Andal Jr. has acute gastroenteritis, also known as stomach flu. (AH/Sunnex)