'Defense ploy to get clemency?'
MANILA, Philippines (UPDATE) - The patriarch of the Ampatuan clan and his son could be arraigned on multiple murder charges next week, more than a year and a half after the Maguindanao massacre took place.
Private prosecutor Nena Santos, legal counsel for Maguindanao Gov. Esmael Mangudadatu, said they have received motions from the lawyers of former Maguindanao Governor Andal Ampatuan Sr. and his son, Sajid Ampatuan, asking the court that their clients be arraigned on May 25.
"We have just received motion to arraign Andal Sr. on May 25 signed by Atty. (Sigfrid) Fortun. Motion for bail of Sajid filed by Atty. (Paris) Real and court order granting medical checkup of Andal Sr. by PGH docs within the camp premises. Ma-a-arraign na ang dalawa sa May 25," she told ABS-CBN Senior Correspondent Ces Drilon.
Fortun also confirmed the news in a separate message.
"I filed a motion to have [Andal Sr.] arraigned May 25. I do not know if it was granted. Am not lawyer of Sajid," he said.
Santos said Fortun filed the petition after the Supreme Court denied their previous motion for certiorari. A pending motion for reconsideration was also not acted on by the Court of Appeals, and may not be granted by the CA, Santos said.
Santos said the defense asked for the arraignment because the Ampatuan patriarch has been detained for so long. She said Sajid Ampatuan's lawyer also filed a motion for bail, which means that he will also be arraigned with his father.
"The prosecution is not expected to oppose this so it is highly likely that Andal Senior will be arraigned this Wednesday," Drilon reported.
Santos said one strategy or move of the defense is to get clemency for Andal Sr.
"Ampatuan is turning 70 this year and in case of conviction then they will apply for clemency. That's looking forward," Drilon reported Santos as saying.
Prosecutors also received a court order allowing doctors from the Philippine General Hospital (PGH) to examine Andal Sr. inside the Bicutan jail compound.
Drilon said the court order noted that a certain Dr. Glenn Santos of the Makati Medical Center had examined Andal Sr. and said the former governor may need medical attention outside the jail. However, a check with the Makati Medical Center showed there is no Dr. Glenn Santos working there.
Members of the Ampatuan clan are among the accused in the massacre of 58 people, including 32 journalists, in Maguindanao province last Nov. 23, 2009.
The victims were on their way to Shariff Aguak town to file the certificate of candidacy of now Gov. Esmael Mangudadatu when their convoy was allegedly blocked at a checkpoint by police and militiamen of the Ampatuans.
'Slow moving case'
A Social Weather Stations (SWS) survey earlier showed more than half of Filipinos are becoming dissatisfied with the delays in the Maguindanao massacre case.
Conducted from March 4 to 7, the SWS poll showed 51% of Filipinos are dissatisfied with the way the case is being resolved, up from 46% in November last year.
The respondents who said they were satisfied with the government’s handling of the case dropped to 32% from 41%, while the number of undecided rose to 16% from 12%.
The Aquino administration received a negative net satisfaction rating, -19, on the issue of the prosecution of the massacre case, down by 14 points from the “neutral” of -5 recorded last November.
Three out of 4 respondents said the prosecution of the case against the accused Ampatuans was too slow, 21% said it was moving just fine and 4% said the government was “too much in a hurry.”
The SWS found 47% of the respondents who claimed that the way the accused are being treated is “just right,” 39%, said it was “too lenient” and 13% called it “too harsh.”
At least 67% of Filipinos said they are following the case “very closely/somewhat closely.” -- Report by Ces Drilon, ABS-CBN News