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Mangudadatu rival faces criminal complaint before DOJ

Criminal charges were filed on Tuesday against a mayor who is challenging Maguindanao governor Esmael Mangudadatu in the coming gubernatorial race in the southern Philippine province. Justice Secretary Leila de Lima said a certain Aisha Camsa has accused Sultan Kudarat mayor Datu Tucao Mastura of abduction and illegal detention. De Lima said Camsa went to her office to file the complaint and request a preliminary investigation in Manila. "They want the preliminary investigation to be conducted in the main office rather than at the provincial prosecutor's office because, you know, these are powerful personalities [who are involved]," De Lima said. GMA News Online was still trying to reach Mastura for comment as of posting time. A known ally of Mangudadatu before, Mastura is challenging the incumbent governor, who will be running for re-election in the coming May elections. He filed his certificate of candidacy in October last year. Mastura is the younger brother of Datu Michael Mastura, a former Maguindanao congressman and a senior member of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) peace panel. In response to the complaint, De Lima assured Mastura's accuser that the Department of Justice (DOJ) would look into the allegations. "I will instruct the National Prosecution Office to assign a prosecutor for purposes of the preliminary investigation. Sa tingin ko puwede nang deretso PI iyon kasi may duly-executed affidavit-complaint and with supporting evidence," she said. Mangudadatu won the gubernatorial post in Maguindanao in 2010, less than a year after his wife and two sisters, along with 55 others, were killed on November 23, 2009 in what is regarded as the worst, single-day election-related attack in the Philippines. Standing accused for the killings are prominent members of the Ampatuan clan, whose political dominance in the province Mangudadatu was challenging when he ran for governor. — Mark Merueñas/KBK, GMA News