NBI unlikely to take custody of Ampatuan patriarch, ARMM governor

December 6, 2009 1:43 am 

MANILA, Dec. 5 — The National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) is ruling out the possibility of taking into its custody Ampatuan patriarch Andal Ampatuan, Sr., son Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) governor Zaldy Ampatuan and other Maguindanao local officials.

NBI director Nestor M. Mantaring aired this as there was no order yet from the Department of Justice (DoJ) to take the local officials under the bureau’s custody.

“Wala pa (None yet),” said Mantaring in an ambush interview.

Mantaring presided over a meeting with top officials of the NBI on Saturday afternoon but opted to keep mum on the issues tackled during the meeting.

The NBI has been securing Datu Unsay town mayor Andal Ampatuan Jr. as well as a star witness in the massacre of 57 people in Maguindanao last Nov. 23.

With the declaration of martial law in Maguindanao Saturday morning, the bureau was prepared for any movements to occur within 48 hours.

NBI regional director Ricardo Diaz, chief of Counter Terrorism Unit (CTU) and concurrent spokesman, said that after the declaration of martial law in the province, security forces had taken into custody several local government officials, including Maguindanao governor Andal Ampatuan Sr., and his son ARMM governor Zaldy Ampatuan.

Diaz said they were still awaiting the decision of the government regarding their custody.

"We are still awaiting order as to which law enforcement agency which will take custody of them," he said.

He said the bureau has the capabilities to accommodate or secure five more high-profile personalities.

While the NBI has the capabilities of securing five more high-profile personalities, Diaz said there were other detention facilities of the Philippine National Police (PNP) and the Armed Forces of the Philippines which are much bigger as compared with the NBI jail.

He said that the bureau's only jail was much smaller as compared to the facilities of the PNP and military.

“If they are going to be brought here, they will all be placed at the bureau jail,” he said.

"Maybe five, we can still secure them but if they are many, it will be better if they can be placed in other PNP or military facilities,” said Diaz.

However, he said that they would follow the government’s order regarding the custody of other personalities. “We expect movements. It will be fast but we have to follow the process. Everything will be within the mandate of the Constitution,” he said.

The NBI official also downplayed reports of possible movements from Muslim communities in Metro Manila. “Wala naman ganyan threats of movements or retaliations from our Muslim brothers. All information is being validated,” he said.

Meanwhile, Deputy Director for Regional Operations Services Victor Bessat said the bureau, the Philippine National Police (PNP) and military, were not ruling out a possibility that there were still other safe houses where the high-powered guns used in the massacre were being kept.

“We are not ruling out the possibility that there are other safe houses where high powered guns are being kept,” said Bessat, adding that investigation is still on-going.

Security forces seized a cache of high-powered firearms near the mansion of the Ampatuans on Friday, believwed to be belonging to the Ampatuans.

Meanwhile, a group called Voice of Justice Movement held rally Saturday afternoon demanding the arrest of all Ampatuans. They also demanded justice for the victims of massacre. (PNA) RMA/JES

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