MANILA (UPDATE)- A Quezon City court has ordered one of the primary accused in the 2009 Maguindanao massacre returned to detention from hospital ahead of the release of the verdict on Thursday.
The Quezon City Regional Trial Court Branch 221 has ordered Zaldy Ampatuan, of the political clan tagged as mastermind in the massacre, returned to Camp Bagong Diwa in Taguig City, just days before the decision is handed down.
He was initially brought to the Taguig Pateros District Hospital on Oct. 21, when he suffered a stroke, then moved to the Makati Medical Center.
Ampatuan, a former governor of the then Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao, and his brother Andal Jr. are among 100 accused facing verdict on Thursday for the murder of 58 people, including 32 journalists on November 23, 2009, in one of the world's worst cases of electoral violence and single deadliest attack on journalists.
His father Andal Sr., also among the accused, died of a heart attack in 2015.
In its order, the court said Ampatuan was “merely continuing medical management and rehabilitation to maximize the residual function and improve his strength” after his stroke.
State prosecutors had questioned Ampatuan's continued stay at the hospital, saying his rehabilitation can be done while in detention.
Ampatuan, on the other hand, sought to extend his confinement.
In resolving the question, the court granted the prosecutors’ plea while denying Ampatuan’s motion.
“Accordingly, the Jail Warden of Quezon City Jail-Annex, Camp Bagong Diwa, Bicutan Taguig City, is hereby directed to immediately transport accused-movant Zaldy Ampatuan to the said detention facility,” Judge Jocelyn Solis-Reyes said in her order dated December 16.
The court looked into Ampatuan’s medical records.
“A perusal of the Medical Abstract/Discharge Summary, submitted by accused-movant, reveals among others, that he is on his 44th day of hospitalization, and clinically as well as neurologically stable with no more complaint of headache and dizziness. He is ambulatory, and likewise shows that his lower extremities are stronger than the upper ones. Included therein is the list of medicines prescribed and the procedures which he underwent during his stay thereat,” it said.
“That being the case, the court finds that there is no longer any need for accused-movant to remain in the hospital as the procedure during rehabilitation session can be done to him as an out-patient. The Rehabilitation Doctor can issue a prescription on what procedures are to be followed by the physical therapist,” it added.
The court also denied Ampatuan’s plea to bring in 2 additional lawyers during the promulgation of judgement of the case on Thursday due to limited space in the courtroom.
“[A]ll private prosecutors and their clients, heirs of the victims, are enjoined to limit the number of counsel who will attend the promulgation day, to one (1) per client. This likewise applies to all the defense counsels.”