MANILA, Philippines (1st UPDATE) - Andal Ampatuan Jr., principal suspect in the Maguindanao massacre, is for Nacionalista Party (NP) presidential candidate Sen. Manny Villar.
During his transfer from a detention cell at the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) to Camp Bagong Diwa in Bicutan, Taguig on Thursday, he wore orange-blue rubber baller ID bands of Villar and NP senatorial bet Gilbert Remulla.
"Ito (shows baller bands) ang kandidato ko," Ampatuan Jr. told ABS-CBN News reporter Maan Macapagal before he left the NBI.
Ampatuan Jr. said he does not know Villar and Remulla personally. He said he has seen and liked the television ads of Villar and Remulla.
In a statement in response to the news segment, Remulla said he does not know Ampatuan Jr. personally. As a former journalist, he said one of his advocacies is to help protect journalists.
"Di ko siya kilala at ni minsan ay hindi kami nagkaharap. Maliban dito, isa sa mga advocacy ko bilang isang dating mamamahayag ay ang 'stop killing journalists' matapos ang Maguindanao massacre," Remulla said. "Umikot pa ako ng bansa para palawakin ang isyu na ito."
Remulla added he does not know how Ampatuan Jr. was able to get one of the 40,000 baller bands that he has been giving out to people nationwide.
"Umabot ng higit 40,000 ang mga baller band na ikinalat ko sa buong bansa. Hindi ko na alam kung paano ito umabot sa kaniya," he said.
A total of 57 innocent civilians, including 30 journalists, were killed in the November 23 massacre in Maguindanao province. It was the Philippines' worst case of election-related violence.
Appeals for fair trial
Ampatuan Jr. also said he doesn't mind being transferred to a Quezon City jail annex at Metro Manila District Jail in Taguig.
"Kahit saan akong ilipat, Ms. Maan, walang problema," he said.
Ampatuan Jr. also appealed to Judge Solis Reyes, who is hearing his multiple murder case, to give him a fair trial.
"Hinihingi ko lang kay Judge Solis, huwag magpadikta at fair trial," he said.
Ampatuan Jr. was transferred to the maximum security detention facility in Taguig after 4 months of detention at the NBI.
He rode in a convoy of at least 10 Sports Utility Vehicles (SUVs) escorted by 200 NBI agents after undergoing medical and admission processes.
The Supreme Court earlier ordered Ampatuan's transfer as well as the murder trial citing "possible danger to civilians and institutions" if the trial and defendant remain in Manila.
Taguig Mayor Freddie Tinga, meanwhile, continued to oppose Ampatuan's transfer to Camp Bagong Diwa.
Tinga said Taguig residents fear the move may cause unrest in a nearby Muslim community.
NBI Director Nestor Mantaring, however, is relieved, saying they can now focus on their duties. -- with reports from Maan Macapagal, ABS-CBN News; ANC