Ampatuan back in jail ahead of Maguindanao massacre verdict

Third Anne Peralta-Malonzo

FORMER Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) governor, Zaldy Ampatuan, who is among the primary accused in the 2009 bloody Maguindanao massacre was discharged from the hospital Wednesday, December 18, a day before the promulgation of judgment on the case.

Ampatuan left the Makati Medical Center at about 2 p.m. and arrived at his detention cell in the Quezon City Jail Annex in Camp Bagong Diwa in Taguig City at 2:31 p.m. Wednesday.

In a statement, Bureau of Jail Management and Penology (BJMP) spokesperson Chief Inspector Xavier Solda assured that Ampatuan was ready for the promulgation on December 19.

“Strict security protocols will be observed inside Camp Bagong Diwa in Taguig City particularly at the courtroom, the venue of promulgation in accordance with the guidelines issued by the Supreme Court,” he said.

Ampatuan was rushed to the hospital on October 21, 2019 due to cardiovascular disease infarct secondary to cardiac dysrhythmia or abnormal heartbeat. He has been confined at the Makati Medical Center since then.

Quezon City Regional Trial Court Branch 221 Judge Jocelyn Solis-Reyes, however, ordered on December 17, 2019 that Ampatuan be returned to jail, saying there is no more need for him to continue staying in the hospital.

Meanwhile, the National Capital Region Police Office (NCRPO) has gone on full alert and implemented a lockdown for jail visitors in the camp as part of security measures for the promulgation.

PNP spokesperson Brigadier General Bernard Banac has also ensured the safety and security of the judges and lawyers involved in the case.

“Yes nakaalerto na ang buong NCRPO sa promulgation ng Maguindanao massacre at nakahanda na po lahat ng pulis natin na siyang magbibigay ng escort at security at makakaasa po tayo na lahat na ag PNP ay laging nakaalerto upang pigilan ang anumang insidente na maaaring muling mangyari na may kaugnayan sa massacre na ito na naganap noong 2009,” he said.

(Yes, the entire NCRPO is on full alert for the promulgation. All our men assigned to escort and provide security to those involved in the case are ready. Rest assured that the police is ready to prevent any untoward incident.)

Banac said the PNP has yet to monitor any threat against the event.

“Hindi naman maiiwasan na may mga relatives na naninirahan dito sa Maynila (ang mga akusado) kaya ang PNP ay nakaalerto maximum po ang ating presence in public para mapigilan ang pagtatangka ng criminal elements na gumawa ng karahasan,” he said.

On November 23, 2009, 58 people, including 32 media workers, were killed by suspected goons of the powerful Ampatuan family in Ampatuan town, Maguindanao.

A total of 197 people, including Ampatuan family members, were charged with multiple murder. Only 107 have been arrested while 80 remain at large. Of the 107, eight have died including Ampatuan patriarch Andal Ampatuan Sr. (SunStar Philippines)