Ampatuans take first step in seeking reversal of Maguindanao massacre conviction

Mike Navallo, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Jan 03 2020 06:48 PM

QUEZON CITY - The Ampatuan brothers have started the process of appealing their conviction for multiple murder in connection with the brutal 2009 Maguindanao massacre, considered the worst political violence in the Philippines.

Zaldy Ampatuan, former governor of the then Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao, filed his notice of appeal with Quezon City Regional Trial Court Branch 221 on Friday afternoon, while his brother former Datu Unsay Mayor Andal “Unsay” Ampatuan, Jr. filed his notice Thursday.

The two of them will appeal their conviction directly with the Court of Appeals (CA).

Their brother, Anwar Ampatuan Sr., filed a motion for reconsideration on Thursday along with his 2 sons, Anwar "Datu Ipi" Ampatuan, Jr. and Anwar Sajid "Datu Ulo" Ampatuan. 

Anwar Sr. has insisted there was no proof he conspired with the other convicts in the case and that he was not present during the meeting where he allegedly suggested killing their rival clan, the Mangudadatus, and burying their vehicles.

His sons also claimed there was not enough evidence that they were in the area of the crime scene despite the court’s finding that they even had a contest as to the most number of victims killed.

All 5 were sentenced to reclusion perpetua (life sentence) or up 40 years in prison, along with 23 other principal accused, for 57 counts of murder.

Among the 15 accused convicted as accessories, Bong Andal filed a motion for reconsideration. 

Andal admitted to burying the victims and their vehicles upon orders of Datu Unsay and is claiming he acted out of uncontrollable fear of greater or equal injury, a ground which exempts an accused from any penalty. 

Meanwhile, the police officer who was both acquitted and convicted for murder has filed a habeas corpus petition with the Court of Appeals questioning the ruling.

But it’s not just those convicted who are appealing.

The heirs of the victims have filed either a motion for partial reconsideration or a notice of appeal to appeal the civil aspect of the case.

But the family of journalist Reynaldo Momay informed the court they intend to appeal not just the civil aspect but the criminal aspect as well, despite the rule on double jeopardy which bars the court from trying again the accused who were acquitted on the same case.

The QC court acquitted all 101 accused in the case of Momay because his death was not established by evidence, as his body was never found.

Fifty-eight people were killed, including 32 journalists. Some were reportedly shot in the genitals and their bodies were buried in a mass grave using an excavator. The ruling, however, only covered 57 murder counts as Momay's body remains missing to this day.

The QC court is set to hear on Monday some of the motions filed including Zaldy Ampatuan’s plea to be moved to the New Bilibid Prison infirmary because of his poor health. 

Another hearing on the remaining motions is set next Friday.