Manhunt on for Maguindanao massacre fugitives

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, December 19) — Authorities resumes hunting down dozens of suspects in the decade-old Maguindanao massacre who have evaded arrest.

The Philippine National Police (PNP) said on Thursday it will "double all efforts" to arrest the 80 other suspects after a Quezon City court handed down its verdict on the 101 accused.

PNP officer-in-charge PLtGen Archie Gamboa said he directed the Criminal Investigation and Detection Group, Intelligence Group, and the police officers in the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao to launch massive manhunt operations for the fugitives, including dismissed Police Inspector Michael Joy Ines Macaraeg.

Macaraeg was sentenced on Thursday to six to ten years of imprisonment as an accessory to the crime, but he did not appear during the court ruling.

"Considering the nature of their crime and their continued flight from justice, we presume these fugitives to be armed and dangerous," Gamboa said in a statement.

Of the 80 suspects facing arrest, 14 have an Ampatuan surname.

International rights group Human Rights Watch (HRW) also said at least 50 of the 80 suspects are police officers and soldiers, including close-in security for murder convict Datu Andal "Unsay" Ampatuan Jr.

"Regardless of the verdicts in the case, Philippine authorities need to apprehend the several dozen suspects still at large," said Phil Robertson, HRW Asia Division deputy director.

Quezon City Regional Trial Court Branch 221 Judge Jocelyn Solis-Reyes convicted 28 people — including brothers Andal "Unsay" Ampatuan Jr. and Zaldy Ampatuan — of 75 counts of murder and sentenced up to 40 years in prison without parole.