Palace says dismayed at Ampatuan furlough

Dharel Placido, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Aug 23 2018 05:40 PM

MANILA - Malacañang on Thursday said it was dismayed that the court granted the furlough bid of former ARMM governor Zaldy Ampatuan, even as it downplayed reports that several Palace officials were listed as sponsors in the wedding of the daughter of the principal accused in the Maguindanao massacre.

Presidential Spokesperson also Harry Roque gave assurances that the government will seek full accountability for the 2009 Maguindanao massacre.

He said the reported inclusion of Executive Secretary Salvador Medialdea, Special Assistant to the President Bong Go, and Presidential Peace Adviser Jesus Dureza, Davao City Mayor Sara Duterte in the list of sponsors in the wedding of Ampatuan’s daughter will have no implication in the pending case.

Ampatuan was allowed by the court to temporarily leave jail to attend the wedding this week, triggering criticism from the National Union of Journalists of the Philippines.

“I don’t think there’s an implication. Officially, the panel of prosecutors, and the President joined them, opposed the motion. And we are dismayed it was granted,” Roque said in a press briefing.

Medialdea said he was asked to stand as godparent in the wedding, but he had to “graciously excuse” himself from attending because of prior engagement.

Dureza, meanwhile, said he was not at the wedding since he attended an event in Davao.

Go, for his part, said he was not even invited to the wedding.

In a statement posted late Tuesday, hours after photos of Ampatuan attending his daughter's wedding surfaced, the group lamented that 9 years since the rampage that killed 58 people, including 32 media workers, no one has been convicted and another accused, Sajid Ampatuan, was granted bail.

The Department of Justice, for its part, said it opposed Ampatuan’s furlough bid.

Quezon City Regional Trial Court Branch 221 Presiding Judge Jocelyn Solis-Reyes, in a three-page order on August 17, allowed Ampatuan to attend Bai Nur Aila’s wedding at a hotel in Pasay City on Tuesday, stating that the occasion is a "significant milestone to be cherished and remembered.”

The furlough granted him was from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m., after which he was brought back to his detention cell in Camp Bagong Diwa, Taguig City. 

Ampatuan, his father and clan patriarch then-Maguindanao Governor Andal Ampatuan, Sr., and brother Andal Jr., are among the principal accused. Andal Sr. passed away while in detention in June 2015. 

The Ampatuans were accused of masterminding the massacre to derail the gubernatorial bid of Esmael Mangudadatu in the 2010 elections.