A SUPPOSED government witness in the Maguindanao massacre has recanted an earlier statement accusing the Ampatuan mayor of masterminding the mass killing and is now pointing to the town vice mayor as the main suspect.

In an affidavit of recantation, Anwar Dimaudtang Masukat said he was forced by the personnel of the Criminal Investigation and Detection Group (CIDG) in Camp Crame – Larry Diaz and lawyer Armado Fabros – into signing his earlier affidavit accusing Ampatuan Mayor Datu Andal Ampatuan Jr., of masterminding the Maguindanao massacre.

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Masukat, a policeman, said during the interrogation at the CIDG, he constantly mentioned the names of Ampatuan Vice Mayor Rasul Sangki and Mohammad Sangki along with several civilian volunteer organizations (CVOs) as the ones who blocked and stopped the Mangudadatu convoy at a checkpoint in Sitio Malating, Barangay Malansay in the morning of November 23.

"And that Vice Mayor Sangki and his CVOs manhandled and beat with the butts of their guns the passengers of the vehicles of the convoy,” Masukat said in his latest affidavit.

He further stated that he never reached the crime scene at Sitio Sanyag, Barangay Salman, Ampatuan. He said this information was not stated in his counter-affidavit and only noticed its absence when the affidavit was presented by Diaz and Fabros for signature.

Masukat said he initially refused to sign the affidavit, but he the CIDG personnel allegedly threatened him of being charged with murder if he would not sign the affidavit.

The new version

Masukat said he has been serving the 1508th Provincial Police Mobile Group (PPMG) since June 16, 2008 but was immediately assigned as personal security for Datu Salibo Vice Mayor Datu Kanor Ampatuan.

"On November 19-21, 2009 I was with my family in Glan, Sarangani. I returned to Shariff Aguak on November 22 and I arrived there at three in the afternoon. At around seven in the morning of November 23, I went to the house of Datu Kanor at Poblacion Shariff Aguak in order to report for duty but when he was not around I decided to see him upon learning that he was at the checkpoint near Ampatuan town. I took off for the checkpoint on my Suzuki Raider motorcycle, to look for Datu Kanor," Masukat said.

"When I reached the PPMG checkpoint at Sitio Malating, Barangay Malansay, I saw Vice Mayor Rasul Sangki and Datu Mohammad Sangki who told me that I should stay at a nearby waiting shed as they will block and stop the Mangudadatu convoy approaching the checkpoint," the witness added.

Masukat said though he was at first hesitant to obey the instructions of Vice Mayor Sangki he “nevertheless followed it because I am afraid of him as he is a known drug addict and his mind is very unstable and in that condition, he has effectively threatened to kill several persons in Shariff Aguak with his guns.”

"At that time, Vice Mayor Sangki was holding a baby armalite which was pointed at me when he addressed me earlier," Masukat said.

Upon the arrival of the Mangudadatu convoy, the Sangkis and their CVOs allegedly ordered all passengers of the convoy to alight from the vehicles and at the top of his voice shouted 'dapa'.

"Then I heard gunshots. These passengers were badly beaten by Vice Mayor Sangki and his CVOs with the butts of their guns. After several minutes, these passengers of the Mangudadatu convoy were ordered by Vice Mayor Sangki to board their vehicles which were driven by his men. Vice Mayor Sangki ordered these drivers to follow his lead towards the direction of Shariff Aguak," Masukat said.

Masukat said after the convoy had left, he went back to the house of Datu Kanor Ampatuan and stayed there the whole day. Then on November 30, he was recalled by Police Provincial Director Alex Bulacan Lenesis and was ordered to render duty in the house of Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (Armm) Governor Zaldy Ampatuan.

"On December 11, I was flown to Manila and taken to the PNP headquarters at Camp Crame where I am presently confined to headquarters," Masukat said.

Sangki’s sister’s affidavit

The sister of Vice Mayor Sangki, Amina Sangki Ampatuan, also issued an affidavit dated January 11, 2010 alleging that no less than her brother admitted his participation in the November 23 massacre.

Amina is the wife of one of the suspects in the massacre Mamasapano Mayor Bahnarin Ampatuan.

"During our talk, Rasul told me that he indeed knew of the plan to kill the Mangudadatus as early as November 19, 2009 and that there is no other choice but to point to the Ampatuans, including my husband Bahnarin and Mayor Unsay Ampatuan as participants to spare him and our father, Zacaria, from suspicion of being part of the group that actually killed the 57 persons," Amina said.

"Rasul, Mohammad and my father's name had been included as suspects in the killings as their CVOs -- Esmail Kanapia and Takpan Dilon were caught by men of the 64th Infantry Battalion descending from the hill where the incident occurred, with the guns they were carrying freshly fired. Kanapia and Dilon were thereafter rescued by three councilors and the station commander of the Ampatuan town upon Rasul's instructions. This rescue would surely point to my brother and father as those who had planned and had actually taken part in the killings," Amina stated in her affidavit.

Amina said Rasul had also been using cocaine and shabu "which has affected the way he thinks and acts."

“Rasul’s violent nature has also caused some of our relatives, including myself, to keep away from him. This is also why it took me a long time to say everything I know about the crime, who actually participated in that crime, and why Rasul was part of it yet narrated lies about the Ampatuans. It pains me to make public all these things about my brother, but I have to for the sake of my innocent husband and my children," she said.

In Wednesday’s hearing on the petition for bail by murder suspect Andal Ampatuan Jr., Ampatuan Vice Mayor Rasul Sangki reportedly implicated Datu Unsay Mayor Andal Ampatuan Jr. in the massacre of 57 people in Maguindanao last November 23, 2009.

Datu Rasul Sangki is on the witness stand, reports claimed, and provided very detailed information on the killing, from the plan up to the execution.

Reports showed that Sangki said Ampatuan invited him to join him and his men in intercepting the convoy of the Mangudadatus, who were also with several journalists.

Sangki reportedly provided information as well on the firearms used during the massacre.