Ampatuan father, sons seek QC court’s reconsideration of murder conviction

Mike Navallo, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Jan 02 2020 07:59 PM | Updated as of Jan 02 2020 08:28 PM

Anwar Ampatuan Sr. and his two sons are challenging the guilty verdict handed down by Judge Jocelyn Solis-Reyes in connection with the 2009 Maguindanao massacre. Mark Demayo, ABS-CBN News

QUEZON CITY—Anwar Ampatuan Sr. and his sons Anwar Jr., alias Datu Ipi, and Anwar Sajid, alias Datu Ulo, have asked a Quezon City court to reconsider its guilty verdict in connection with the Maguindanao massacre.

The three, convicted for the death of 57 people, filed two separate motions for reconsideration with Quezon City Regional Trial Court Branch 221 on Thursday, January 2.

In his motion, Anwar Sr. said there was no evidence that he “actually cooperated in the commission of the crimes as charged” and that there was no conspiracy that would make him equally liable with the other convicts.

Judge Jocelyn Solis-Reyes convicted Anwar Sr., despite his absence from the crime scene on November 23, 2009, because he supposedly suggested in one meeting to kill the Mangudadatus and bury their vehicles, citing the testimony of witness Sukarno Badal.

According to the court, Anwar’s words were one of the moving facts that emboldened Unsay to carry out his plan.

The bodies of some of the victims and their vehicles were buried in a hilly portion of Sito Masalay in Barangay Salman, Ampatuan town, Maguindanao, in an attempt to hide evidence of the killings.

The court also found Anwar Sr. to have helped his brother, Unsay, and others escape after the massacre.

But Anwar Sr. questioned Badal’s credibility saying it would have been impossible for him to memorize “to the letter” all of the statements made by each of the supposed participants in the meetings.

“To say that the utterances of Datu Anwar, if indeed they were uttered, were the driving force or moving factor which emboldened all the more his other relatives in carrying out the plan is speculative and based on mere conjectures. It must be remembered that even before such utterances were made, the plan to kill was already hatched, if at all,” he said.

He pointed out that the evidence suggested Datu Unsay wasn’t even present to hear his statement.

He urged the court to make the same ruling as co-accused Datu Akmad “Tato” Ampatuan Sr., who was acquitted despite having expressed agreement to the killing of the Mangudadatus.

“[S]uch words did not necessarily mean that he pushed for and have necessarily agreed to the commission of the crime,” he said.

He also denied helping Unsay to escape, saying the only evidence against him was the testimony of Ampatuan’s helper, Lakmodin Saliao, who only heard him in a phone call agree to Andal Ampatuan Sr.’s instructions but did not testify as to his participation in the supposed escape.

For their part, Datu Ipi and Datu Ulo questioned the court’s reliance on Badal’s testimony placing them in a meeting plotting the killings and on the crime scene itself.

They cited testimonies of other witnesses which did not mention their presence in Sitio Masalay.

In convicting the 2 brothers, the court said they knew about the plan and even had a contest as to the most number of victims they’d kill.

Main Maguindanao massacre accused Datu Andal Ampatuan Jr., alias Datu Unsay, also filed a notice of appeal on Friday, expressing his intention to appeal his guilty verdict directly with the Court of Appeals.

Meanwhile, former Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao Governor Zaldy Ampatuan has yet to file a motion for reconsideration or notice of appeal.

All 28 convicted as principals for murder and 15 convicted as accessories have until Friday, January 3, to file an MR or a notice of appeal.