Kin of Murdered Couple See Hope, Fear Reprisals

One of the relatives pointed to the abandoned residence of the Ligawan family where the couple’s tomb was buried inside their residence compound in Sinakulay, President Quirino town in Sultan Kudarat. (M(ark Navales)

SULTAN KUDARAT – Relatives of a Muslim couple who was murdered over a decade ago expressed fear and victory at the same time following the capture of one of four suspects in the killings – Pandag Mayor Khadafeh Mangudadatu ‘Toy’ Mangudadatu.

Mangudadatu, a member of a powerful political clan and former member of the Bangsamoro Transition Authority (BTA), had been captured by policemen at a posh hotel in Davao City recently after an arrest warrant was issued by the court for the killings of Abdulah and Lalaw Ligawan in October 7, 2010 in the village of Sinakulay in Sultan Kudarat’s President Quirino town.

Police are also hunting three other suspects – Zajid Mangudadatu, Tunggal Usop and Mamayang Amino – in connection to the murder charges. Judge Samina Sampaco Macabando-Usman, of Branch 20 of the Regional Trial Court, who signed the arrest warrant on September 9, recommended no bail for Mangudadatu and all the accused.

Mangudadatu was rushed to hospital following his arrest, complaining of chest pains and difficulty in breathing. But the results of the series of medical tests were all normal, according to Capt. Richard Ebero, medical officer of the Criminal Investigation and Detection Group (CIDG).

We tried to get the mayor’s side but has not issued any statement.

After more than a decade of waiting in silence, the relatives of the victims said they are finally seeing a glimpse of justice and are relieved from pain but they also expressed fears, afraid of possible retaliation.

In an exclusive interview, a family member of the murdered couple said their prayers had been answered. “I’ve waited for several years for this moment to happen. The karma hit them. I am very happy that someone will now pay for what has happened. I am not afraid. I just wanted the truth to come out,” he said, adding they are all aware of possible reprisals following the capture of the suspect.

Because of the death of the couple, he said all the victims’ five children had been separated from each other and their house is now abandoned. “The case dragged on for 12 years. We were not even noticed in the past because we just came from an ordinary family. Now, Masayang masaya na kami, nahuli na ang suspect, managot ang dapat managot.” he said.

Another female relative said they welcomed the latest development but at the same time worried for their safety. “I am happy that justice is served. I am leaving everything to Allah,” she said.

Lt. Col. Bernard Lao, regional director of the Criminal Investigation and Detection Group (CIDG), told reporters that Mangudadatu had been under long surveillance before he was cornered at a hotel in Davao City on September 10.


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