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189 arrests in Maguindanao massacre

MANILA, March 25 – A Philippine regional trial court today ordered the arrest of 189 suspects linked to the gory Nov. 23, 2009 Maguindanao massacre that killed 57 civilians, including 30 journalists that shook the media worldwide.

Judge Jocelyn Solis-Reyes of the Quezon City Regional Trial Court Branch 221 issued the order to the Philippine National Police Criminal Investigation and Detection Group (PNP-CIDG) and the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) following the resumption of the unprecedented trial of this in the Philippines this decade.

In her order, Judge Reyes told the police and NBI that the arrest be implemented immediately.

The massacre which rocked not only the media in the Philippines, but also the world press claimed the lives of 57 people, including 30 media people and 15 women.

It was the first time in world history that 30 members of media were massacred in one sweeping incident that triggered worldwide condemnation.

Currently in detention are former Maguindanao Governor Andal Ampatuan, Sr.; Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) Governor Zaldy Ampatuan; former Acting Maguindanao Governor Sajid Ampatuan, Akmad Ampatuan, Anwar Ampatuan, Tactan Dilo, Ismael Canabia and Maguindanao PNP chief Chief Insp. Sukarno Dikay.

They are now detained at the PNP-CIDG Detention Center in General Santos City in southern Philippines.

Datu Unsay, Maguindanao Mayor Andal Ampatuan, Jr., the prime suspect in the multiple murder charges, is the only one detained at the NBI Detention Cell here in Manila.

He vehemently denied the charges during previous hearing of the case.

At the same time, Reyes, a fearless lady judge, also approved the amended information filed by the Department of Justice that implicated 196 individuals in the case.

Among the journalists killed in the massacre were Manila Bulletin correspondent Bong Reblando, and the wife and two sisters of Buluan, Maguindanao Vice Mayor Esmael "Toto" Mangudadatu, who is seeking the governorship of the province in the coming May 10 election.

Mangudadatu and his lead counsel Nena Santos welcomed the issuance of the arrest warrants.

Santos said this would mean that those in custody would have to be transferred to Manila, as the police will intensify the manhunt for those at large.

On Wednesday, the Court of Appeals dismissed the writs of Amparo and habeas corpus filed by Ampatuan Jr. for lack of form and substance.

In his petition, Ampatuan accused police authorities of destroying his property and harassing his family while serving a search warrant.

See other stories on the Maguindanao massacre.

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