MANILA, Philippines – One of the at-large suspects in the 2009 Ampatuan massacre has been finally caught after evading arrest for over a decade, authorities said on Monday.
The Police Regional Office Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (PRO BARMM) identified the arrested suspect as 42-year old Faisal Dimaukom, also known as Kagi Faizal.
Police said Dimaukom was apprehended early Monday in an operation launched at Barangay Kabinge, Datu Saudi Ampatuan in Maguindanao.
The focus operation was jointly conducted by elements from the Regional Intelligence Division of PRO BARMM, Regional Mobile Force Battalion 14 and DSA MPS.
Recovered from Dimaukom’s possession was an F1 Fragmentation hand grenade.
The suspect was turned over to Parang Municipal Police Station for documentation and proper disposition.
Dimaukom is among the 80 out of nearly 200 suspects in the massacre who were at large when the Quezon City Regional Trial Court (QC RTC) Branch 221 released last month its verdict on the gruesome killing.
On December 19, QC RTC Judge Jocelyn Solis-Reyes handed down a guilty verdict to some members of the political Ampatuan clan, including former Datu Unsay Mayor Andal Ampatuan Jr., former Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao Governor Zaldy Ampatuan, Anwar Ampatuan Sr., Anwar Ampatuan Jr., and Anwar Sajid Ampatuan, for their involvement in the murder of 57 people, including members of the media.
Originally, there were 58 victims in the massacre but the 58th person, photographer Reynaldo Momay of the local paper Midland Review, was declared missing after his body was not found in the scene.
The ambush happened when 32 members of the media were on their way to a local Commission on Elections office to cover the filing of then gubernatorial bet Esmael Mangudadatu – a political rival of the Ampatuans.
Six of the victims were not part of the Mangudadatu supporters and the media convoy.
The Ampatuan massacre is considered the worst election-related violence and attack on press freedom in the Philippines.