3 Ampatuan brothers, others guilty of Maguindanao massacre

Third Anne Peralta-Malonzo

UPDATED) Brothers Andal Jr. "Datu Unsay", Zaldy and Anwar Ampatuan Sr. as well as five other members of the powerful Ampatuan clan were found guilty of 57 counts of murder in relation to the 2009 Maguindanao massacre and sentenced to reclusion perpetua without parole.

Twenty others were also convicted and meted the same sentence of up to 40 years in prison, with no parole. All 28 were also ordered to pay damages of P155.594 million jointly and severally to the heirs of the victims.

Fifteen others, including 14 policemen, were convicted as accessories and sentenced to a minimum of six years of prision correccional to a maximum of 10 years and eight months of prision mayor.

Quezon City Regional Trial Court Branch 221 Judge Jocelyn Solis Reyes handed down Thursday, December 19, 2019, a 761-page consolidated partial decision on the case, about 10 years after the massacre that has been described as the “deadliest” attack against the press.

After hearing their names, those convicted could not hide their disappointment.

On the other hand, 56 people rejoiced and hugged each other when they were acquitted.

Among those acquitted are four members of the Ampatuan clan and 27 police officers. The court ordered their immediate release from detention.

The four Ampatuan family members who were ordered released are Akmad, Sajid Islam, Jonathan and Jimmy. Sajid Islam, whom witnesses said did not participate in plotting the carnage, currently serves as mayor of Shariff Saydona Mustapha in Maguindanao.

Ruling

Only the dispositive portion of the 761-page ruling was read in court at about 11:30 a.m. Thursday, after a delay of more than two hours.

Lawyers representing the Ampatuan brothers separately said they will file an appeal within 15 days.

Aside from the three brothers, five other individuals with surname Ampatuan were also found guilty and sentenced to reclusion perpetua. They are Datu Anwar Sajid "Datu Ulo" Ampatuan, Datu Anwar "Datu Ipi" Ampatuan Jr., Manny Ampatuan, Mohades Ampatuan and Misuari Ampatuan.

Others convicted and meted the same sentence of reclusion perpetua are:

  • Police Inspector Saudi Mokamad
  • Police Officer 1 Jonathan Engid
  • Abedin Alamada also known as Kumander Bedi,
  • Talembo "Tammy" Masukat also known as Talembo Kahar Abdulrakman
  • Theng P. Sali also known as Adbullah Hamid Abdulkahar
  • Nasser Esmael also known as Nasrudin Esmael
  • Police Chief Inspector Sukarno Dicay
  • Police Superintendent Abusama Mundas Maguid
  • Police Superintendent Bahnarin Kamaong
  • Tato Tampogao
  • Mohamad T. Datumanong also known as Nicomedes Amad Tolentino
  • Taya Bangkulat
  • Salik Bangkulat
  • Thong Guiamano also known as Ibrahim Kamal Tatak
  • Sonny K. Pindi also known as Joven Salazar Piang also known as Bimbo Salazar Piang
  • Armando Ambalgan also known as Jamil Bulatukan Kayansang/Bolatokan Omar (testified as Omar Bulatukan Kayansang)
  • Kudza Masukat Uguia also known as Datu Teng Ibrahim/Mustapha Ibrahim
  • Edres Kasan also known as Edres Gogo Alip (testified as Edris Gugo Kasan)
  • Zacaria P. Akil also known as Quago Akil
  • Samaon Andatuan

Those convicted as accessories are:

  • Police Inspector Michael Joy Macaraeg
  • Police Officer 3 Felix Eñate
  • PO3 Abibudin Abdulgani
  • PO3 Rasid Anton
  • PO2 Hamad Nana
  • PO2 Saudi Pasutan
  • PO2 Saudiar Ulah
  • PO1 Esprilieto Lejarso
  • PO1 Narkuok Mascud
  • PO1 Pia Kamidon
  • PO1 Esmael Guialal
  • PO1 Arnulfo Soriano
  • PO1 Herich Amaba
  • Police Senior Inspector Abdulgapor Abad
  • Bong Andal

The court ordered the transfer of those convicted to the New Bilibid Prison from the Quezon City Jail Annex, where they were held before the verdict was handed down.

Meanwhile, those acquitted on ground of reasonable doubt, aside from the four Ampatuan family members, are:

  • SPO1 Elizer Rendaje
  • SPO1 Alimola Guianaton
  • SPO1 Samad Maguindra
  • PO3 Ricky Balanueco
  • PO3 Gibrael Alano
  • PO2 Rexson Guiama
  • PO1 Amir Solaiman
  • PO1 Badjun Panegas
  • PO1 Pendatun Dima
  • PO1 Ebara Bebot
  • PO1 Tamano Hadi
  • PO1 Michael Macarongon
  • SPO1 Ali Solano
  • PO3 Felix Daquilos
  • PO2 Kendatu Rakim
  • PO1 Abdulraman Batarasa
  • PO1 Marjul Julkadi
  • PO1 Datu Jerry Utto
  • PO1 Mohammad Balading
  • PO1 Marsman Nilong
  • PO1 Ysmael Baraquir
  • PO1 Abdulmanan Saavedra
  • PO1 Jimmy Kadtong
  • PO1 Sandy Sabang
  • Takpan Dilon
  • Edris Tekay Nanding
  • PO1 Warden Legawan
  • Rainer Ebus
  • Mohamad Sangki
  • Tho Amino
  • Norman Tatak
  • Malaguial Tanuri also known as Johari Montok Malaguial
  • Alimudin Sanguyod also known as Norodin Malang
  • Mama Habib
  • Sahid Guiamadel also known as Arnel Abdullah
  • Datutulon Esmail
  • Kasim Lingkong also known as Abdulkadir Saludin
  • Akad Macaton also known as Mohamad Salazar Piang
  • Norhato Kamino also known as Alfeche Banding
  • Nasser Malaguia also known as Ramon Dadulo
  • Police Inspector Bahnarin Kamaong
  • Police Superintendent Abdulwahid Pedtucasan
  • PO1 Ahmad Camsa Badal
  • PO2 Tanny Dalgan
  • PO1 Anwar Masukat
  • Samsudin Daud
  • Maot Bangkulat also known as Benjie Dagendengan
  • Denga Mentol also known as Ronnie Ofong
  • Fahad Utto also known as Richard Gofel

For failure of the prosecution to prove their guilt, PO1 Abdullah Baguadatu, PO1 Oscar Donato and PO1 Michael Madsig were also acquitted.

Tight security

Relatives of the victims, lawyers of both parties and members of the media arrived at Camp Bagong Diwa in Taguig City, Metro Manila before the break of dawn Thursday.

By 6 a.m., the camp went on lockdown and no one was allowed to enter the premises.

Security was tight as the accused, who were held at the Quezon City Jail Annex inside the camp, were led to the court.

Promulgation was scheduled for 9 a.m., but Solis-Reyes arrived at about 11 a.m.

A total of 197 individuals were charged with multiple murder for the killing of 58 persons, including 32 media workers, on November 23, 2009.

Of the 197, 117 were arrested. The rest remain at large. The court issued warrants of arrest for the 80 after the promulgation of judgment on Thursday.

Of the 117, 15 are members of the powerful Ampatuan clan. The Ampatuan patriarch, Andal Sr., and seven others died while in detention.

Sixteen of the 31 police officers among the accused were released on bail. Eight of the accused were released after their cases were dismissed.

One turned state witness and is under the government's witness protection program.

Datu Zaldy, a former governor of the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (now Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao), returned to jail only on Wednesday, December 18, after a 44-day hospital confinement for a heart disease.

Massacre

On November 23, 2009, a convoy led by Bai Genalyn Mangudadatu was traveling towards Shariff Aguak to file then Buluan, Maguindanao Vice Mayor Esmael Mangudadatu's certificate of candidacy as governor to challenge the rule of the Ampatuan family.

Mangudadatu, who had received death threats for challenging the Ampatuans, said he sent his wife and female relatives to file his COC, thinking that they would not be harmed. The presence of 32 media workers was also supposed to be a deterrent.

The convoy was waylaid by at least 100 heavily armed men, including Andal Jr.

All 58 individuals who were part of the convoy and their vehicles were brought to a hilly portion of Sitio Masalay in Barangay Salman in Ampatuan town, Maguindanao and executed.

Their bodies and their vehicles were buried in a shallow mass grave using a backhoe.

There were a total of 357 witnesses, including the Ampatuan’s household workers and those who claimed to have been personally involved in the carnage.

They pointed at Andal Jr., who was supposed to run for governor to succeed his father and namesake, and other Ampatuan family members as the brains behind the killings.

Andal Jr. denied having a hand in the crime and claimed that the Moro Islamic Liberation Front was responsible for it.

In 2010, Suwaib Upham, a witness who claimed to have direct knowledge of the massacre, was killed by unidentified suspects in Maguindanao.

Another witness, Esmael Enog, who testified during the trial that he drove at least 36 armed men to the site of the massacre was also killed.

In 2014, another witness, Dennix Sakal, who was a worker of Ampatuan Jr. was killed by unidentified gunmen. (SunStar Philippines)