Acquitted Sajid Ampatuan ordered to explain Maguindanao massacre promulgation absence

Mike Navallo, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Dec 19 2019 12:03 PM | Updated as of Dec 19 2019 12:56 PM

Watch more on iWantTFC

MANILA – A local court has ordered Datu Sajid Islam Ampatuan, who was among those accused of plotting and carrying out the Maguindanao massacre, to explain his absence during the promulgation of judgment, Thursday.

Judge Jocelyn Solis-Reyes said Sajid, who was acquitted due to reasonable doubt, cannot waive his presence during promulgation.

"It's like arraignment and during the initial trial where the accused will be identified by the complainant. You cannot waive that," she said. 

Prosecutors moved for the court to direct Sajid to submit a written explanation "for neglecting and refusing to appear at this court proceeding despite the lawful order of the court." They also urged the court to order Sajid's arrest and confiscate his multi-million bail. 

He was given 5 days to explain his absence at the promulgation of judgment and why he should not be cited in contempt of court. 

Sajid was "indisposed" but "has no objections to the proceeding so it can already be done," his lawyer earlier said. 

Sajid, son of Ampatuan patriarch Andal, Sr., is incumbent mayor of Shariff Saydona Mustapha, Maguindanao.

Sajid had said he already cut ties with his family after he was removed as OIC governor of Maguindanao a month before the killings. 

At the time of the massacre, he said he assisted his wife who was filing her own candidacy in Shariff Saydona, 15 minutes away from the crime scene.

Sajid was granted bail in 2015 with the court citing testimonies that he did not utter a single word during the supposed meetings. 

He was convicted of graft in March by the Sandiganbayan and sentenced to life imprisonment, the decision affirmed in September. 

Under the Rules of Court, the accused loses their chance to appeal a guilty ruling if their absence during the promulgation of judgment are not justified.

Aside from Sajid, 2 other accused were not present. 

With a report from Mike Navallo, ABS-CBN News