Vice mayor who testified in Ampatuan massacre ambushed in Maguindanao

MANILA, Philippines – Akmad Mitra Ampatuan, a vice mayor who testified against his own relatives in the Maguindanao massacre case, was ambushed on Christmas Eve, December 24, on his way home. Two of his aides died, while he was injured and is in “stable condition” as of Tuesday evening, police said.

The ambush occurred 5 days after a Quezon City court convicted the masterminds in the massacre.

How it happened: In a phone interview with Rappler, Maguindanao police chief Colonel Arnold Santiago said Vice Mayor Ampatuan was driving his red Toyota Innova at around 1 pm along the national highway of Shariff Aguak, Maguindanao, when “two to three” gunmen aboard a white multicab stopped them and sprayed his car with bullets.

With Ampatuan were two aides. One sat on the navigator’s seat and the other sat behind the vice mayor. Santiago said the former was declared dead at the hospital, while the latter died on the spot. The vice mayor, meanwhile, was rushed to the hospital.

Santiago said Ampatuan’s relatives reported that he was in “stable condition” at the Davao Doctors Hospital.

Luck and negligence? Santiago said the ambush occurred between two military outposts. Mindanao has been under military rule since May 2017.

Nalusutan sila (It slipped past them),” said Santiago.

Santiago said the mayor’s survival may be attributed to him choosing on Tuesday to drive his Innova, as the gunmen apparently focused their artillery on the passengers’ seats that were occupied by his aide who died on the spot.

The motive: Santiago said the most obvious motive they are pursuing is political, especially with Vice Mayor Ampatuan turning himself into a witness of the prosecution against his relatives in the brutal Ampatuan massacre in November 2009.

He added that Akmad is under the Witness Protection Program of the justice department. He used to be allied with Andal Ampatuan Sr but later sided with the clan's rival, the Mangudadatus. –

Rambo Talabong

Rambo Talabong covers security, crime, and the city of Manila for Rappler. He was chosen as a Jaime V. Ongpin Fellow in 2019 for his reporting on President Rodrigo Duterte’s war on drugs.