CMFR/PHILIPPINES – The Quezon City court hearing the murder cases against the alleged perpetrators of the November 23, 2009 Ampatuan (Maguindanao) Massacre denied the petitions for bail of another primary suspect last 15 September 2015.
In denying the bail petitions filed by former Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao Gov. Zaldy Ampatuan, Branch 221 Judge Jocelyn Solis-Reyes of the Quezon City Regional Trial Court said that “based on the proofs so far presented, there are clear, strong, and convincing pieces of evidence, which tend to exclude all reasonable probability of any other conclusion, that the accused is deeply involved in the purported planning of the crimes.”
The court took into account the testimonies of witnesses who positively identified Zaldy Ampatuan as a participant in the planning of the November 23, 2009 massacre. According to the 27-page decision, Zaldy Ampatuan “allegedly figured by being assigned in Metro Manila, by volunteering firearms, and by giving an advice to be cautious about the actions of the group in pursuing their plans.”
“In the ordinary context these words heard from the accused would show his agreement and unity with the plans discussed during the meetings. Beyond agreement, the accused gave moving utterances that elicited emotional responses and further actions from the group,” said the court.
Zaldy Ampatuan is among the 197 inidividuals accused of planning and killing 58 persons, including 32 journalists/media workers, on 23 November 2009 in Ampatuan town, Maguindanao province. The victims were part of a convoy led by the wife of then Buluan town, Maguindanao Vice Mayor Esmael Mangudadatu that was on its way to Shariff Aguak town to file Mangudadatu’s certificate of candidacy (COC) for provincial governor.
The lawyers of Zaldy’s cousin Unsay Ampatuan is currently presenting rebuttal evidence in the hearings on his bail petitions. Petitions for bail of Andal Ampatuan Sr., Akmad Tato Ampatuan and Anwar Ampatuan Sr. had been denied by the court in separate rulings. (Andal Ampatuan Sr. died of liver cirrhosis in July 2015.)