Camp Bagong Diwa on lockdown for Maguindanao massacre case promulgation

Robie de Guzman   •   December 18, 2019   •   431

MANILA, Philippines – The Camp Bagong Diwa in Taguig City has been placed on security lockdown beginning Wednesday, or a day before the much-anticipated promulgation of the verdict on the Maguindanao massacre case.

Philippine National Police Spokesperson Brigadier General Bernard Banac said police forces in Taguig City have also been placed on heightened alert to prepare for any eventuality that may occur during the case promulgation.

The ruling for the multiple murder charges against over 100 suspects – including members of the Ampatuan clan – will be released by Judge Jocelyn Solis-Reyes of the Quezon City Regional Trial Court Branch 221 on Thursday, Dec. 19 at the Quezon City Jail Annex in Camp Bagong Diwa.

“Ang PNP ay naka-alerto at maximum ang ating presence in public para po mapigilan ang pagtatangka ng mga criminal elements na gumawa ng karahasan,” Banac said.

Aside from beefing up security at Camp Bagong Diwa, the PNP also tightened its watch over the area which houses some of the members of the Ampatuan family.

Police civil disturbance unit has also been placed on alert for possible protest actions that may be staged during the event.

“Observe natin ang situation kung magkakaroon pa ng iba pang insidente o escalation so far wala pa naman tayong natatanggap na ulat o banta pero patuloy lamang ang ating mataas na level of security,” Banac said.

The PNP official also said that the Quezon City Police District will ensure the security of Judge Solis-Reyes, while the National Bureau of Investigation and the PNP Special Action Force will ensure the safety of the prosecutors and lawyers handling the case.

“Kahit matapos yung promulgation, pananatilihin natin na mataas ang level ng security hanggang sa maaaring sabihin ni Judge na hindi na niya kailangan ay saka na lang tayo magsasagawa ng adjustment,” he said.

The PNP said it has not received any validated security threat in relation to the case promulgation.

It also assured all families of the massacre victims that their security remains paramount and that it is ready to provide additional security detail when requested, subject to existing laws and policies.

The Maguindanao massacre is considered as the worst election-related violence and attack on press freedom in the Philippines.

The gruesome incident that occurred in Ampatuan town on Nov. 23, 2009, left 58 people dead, including 32 media personnel, some members of the Mangudadatu family and several civilians.

The ambush happened when they were on their way to a local Commission on Elections office to cover the filing of then gubernatorial bet Esmael Mangudadatu – a political rival of the Ampatuans.

Datu Andal Ampatuan Jr. and his brother Zaldy Ampatuan are the primary accused in the case.

Of the 197 original suspects facing multiple murder charges, 101 were put on trial and could face sentencing soon. – RRD (with details from Correspondent Lea Ylagan)

Key witness in Maguindanao massacre case hurt in South Cotabato ambush

Robie de Guzman   •   June 3, 2020

MANILA, Philippines – A witness in the Maguindanao massacre trial who is under state protection was injured in an ambush in South Cotabato on Wednesday.

Lawyer Nena Santos, who represents several families of the massacre victims, said Mohamad Sangki, his driver, and one security escort from the Department of Justice’s witness protection program (WPP) were traversing Tantangan, South Cotabato on their way to the airport when they were ambushed.

Sangki was not hit by the bullets but he sustained injuries due to the impact of the vehicle when it slammed against two cottages along the road, Santos said.

The security escort was able to return fire but the gunmen fled the scene.

“The driver is 50/50 but prognosis is bad,” she added.

Santos said they are now being treated in a hospital while authorities are pursuing the perpetrators.

Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra said he will order an investigation into the shooting incident.

“Sangki is a vital witness in the second wave of prosecution for the Maguindanao massacre, and it is not far-fetched that his ambush today had something to do with the horrible case,” Guevarra said in a statement.

This is the second time that Sangki’s life was threatened after he survived an ambush try in Sharif Aguak town in Maguindanao in March.

The Maguindanao massacre, the country’s worst case of election-related violence, claimed the lives of 58 people on November 23, 2009.

Most of the victims were media personnel who joined the convoy of Esmael “Toto” Mangudadatu’s wife to cover the filing of his certificate of candidacy for the governor’s position.

In December 2019, members of the Ampatuan clan were found guilty and sentenced to a maximum of 40 years of imprisonment for the murder of 57 people in Maguindanao.

Among those convicted were Datu Andal Ampatuan, Jr., Zaldy Ampatuan, and Datu Anwar, Sr. who are sons of the late Maguindanao Governor Andal Ampatuan Sr. accused of masterminding the gruesome crime. –RRD (details from Correspondence Janice Ingente)

Ampatuans convicted in massacre case head to Court of Appeals

Robie de Guzman   •   January 3, 2020

Andal Ampatuan, Jr. and Zaldy Ampatuan

MANILA, Philippines – Members of the Ampatuan clan who were found guilty of planning and executing the gruesome 2009 massacre in Maguindanao are heading to the Court of Appeals (CA) to contest their convictions.

In a notice served to the Quezon City Regional Trial Court (RTC) Branch 221 on Thursday, Brothers Andal Ampatuan, Jr. and Zaldy Ampatuan said they will take the case to the appellate court, and asked the lower court to forward all of the case records to the CA for review and proceedings.

Their relatives Datu Anwar Ampatuan, Sr. and his sons Datu Anwar Jr and Anwar Sajid have filed separate motions for reconsiderations before the Quezon City court, urging Judge Solis-Reyes to review the decision due to the alleged loopholes in the testimony of some witnesses.

On December 19, Judge Solis-Reyes handed down a guilty verdict to some members of the political Ampatuan clan for their involvement in the murder of 57 people, including members of the media.

Originally, there were 58 victims in the massacre but the 58th person, photographer Reynaldo Momay of the local paper Midland Review, was declared missing after his body was not found in the scene.

The ambush happened when 32 members of the media were on their way to a local Commission on Elections office to cover the filing of then gubernatorial bet Esmael Mangudadatu – a political rival of the Ampatuans.

Six of the victims were not part of the Mangudadatu supporters and the media convoy.

The Ampatuan massacre is considered as the worst election-related violence and attack on press freedom in the Philippines.

Meanwhile, in a separate motion, Zaldy Ampatuan asked the QC court to allow his transfer to the infirmary of the New Bilibid Prison “to receive therapy, rehabilitation and medication prescribed by his doctors, and so as not to unduly put his health in jeopardy.

His lawyers said the former Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao government have suffered three strokes in two months, and has hypertension, diabetes and chronic atrial fibrillation.

Zaldy Ampatuan had been confined to a hospital in Makati from October to December. He was ordered by the court to return to his detention facility a day before the Ampatuan case promulgation.

Mangudadatu, on the other hand, said he is not surprised by the legal moves that the Ampatuans are employing following the promulgation.

“Expected namin yan pero kung magkaroon man ng final conviction kumbaga dapat sa panahon na yan may bitay na para hindi na tularan itong ganitong klaseng gawain,” he said.

He also expressed confidence that evidence against the Ampatuans are airtight and that the appellate court will not grant their appeals. – RRD (with details from Correspondent Dante Amento)

Police security for Judge Reyes, residence remains — NCRPO

Maris Federez   •   December 20, 2019

(FILE) Judge Jocelyn Solis-Reyes (C) presides the hearing of the Ampatuan Massacre at a maximum security prison in Taguig, south of Manila, Philippines, on 25 May 2011.

MANILA, Philippines — The National Capital Region Police Office (NCRPO) confirmed on Friday (Dec. 20) that the police escorts installed for Judge Jocelyn Solis-Reyes remain even after the promulgation of the Ampatuan massacre case.

NCRPO acting director PBGen. Debold Sinas said police security for the Judge will continue.

He added that they have also installed personnel that will guard the Solis’s residence.

“Ang agreement namin po sa Supreme Court administrator, ang close-in niya tuloy pa rin po until the time the judge feels the situation is back to normal. Yung wala na syang agam-agam,” Sinas said.

Meanwhile, the police general also confirmed that the security inside the Camp Bagong Diwa in Taguig City has gone back to normal after the promulgation of the case.

Inmates in the Metro Manila District Jail Annex may once again receive visitors.

Even the families of the acquitted accused in the Ampatuan case may also enter the compound to welcome their loved ones to freedom.

“Accordingly, when we call the BJMP, they were processing it, paisa isa ang release nun once the procedure ay ma- comply so hindi na po kami privy nun…ang amin lang kung susunduin sila its ok, mino-monitor lang namin kasi dadaan pa rin sa kampo namin sila,” Sinas added.

The official also added that the whole force of the NCRPO will remain in full alert status until January. —(with the report of Lea Ylagan) /mbmf

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