Guilty: Court convicts Ampatuan brothers over decade-old Maguindanao massacre

Maguindanao political dynasty members Datu “Unsay” Andal Jr. and Zaldy Ampatuan, along with several others, were convicted of 57 counts of murder today as a judge rendered the historic and long-awaited verdict in a trial over what has been called the worst case of election-related violence in Philippine history.

Read: Court orders Zaldy Ampatuan’s return to jail from hospital as verdict for Maguindanao massacre nears

Quezon City Regional Trial Court (RTC) Branch 221 Judge Jocelyn Solis-Reyes sentenced the Ampatuan brothers to life, or up to 40 years, in prison without possibility of parole for the killing of 58 people, 32 of whom were journalists, on Nov. 23, 2009, Rappler reports. (The defendants were only found guilty on 57 counts because one of the bodies was never recovered.)

In a 761-page ruling, the court handed down guilty verdicts to 100 of the 197 suspects accused in the case. Three Ampatuans were also acquitted, the cases against six other defendants were dropped, two of the accused were discharged as state’s witnesses, and the remainder are either at large, or have died over the course of the intervening years. (Scroll to the end to see a full list of the judgments.)

Before the court’s verdict was rendered, Esmael “Toto” Mangudadatu, Maguindanao’s former governor, who lost his wife and sisters in the mass killing, told reporters outside Camp Bagong Diwa in Taguig this morning that he was praying for a “100 percent guilty verdict.”

The Ampatuans are political rivals of the Mangudadatus. At the time of the massacre, Esmael, then a gubernatorial hopeful for Maguindanao, was set to run in the 2010 elections against Mayor Datu “Unsay” Andal Ampatuan, the son of then-Governor Andal Ampatuan Sr. On the way to file for Esmael’s candidacy, a convoy of seven vehicles carrying his wife, sisters, lawyers, supporters and a host of journalists was reportedly stopped at a checkpoint in Sitio Malating, Ampatuan town, by around 100 armed men.

The men were allegedly part of a private army sent by the Amapatuan clan to dispose of their enemies. The victims were taken away and killed in broad daylight, and their bodies dumped in roadside pits. Authorities later found the mass graves and had to use a backhoe to recover the dead.

A domestic worker and two politicians — both of whom were initially among the co-defendants — were among those who testified to seeing the brothers attend meetings where they planned the mass killing. The massacre was alleged to have been conducted with the approval of the clan’s patriarch and co-accused, Andal Sr., who died of a heart attack in 2015. Datu “Unsay” Andal Jr., was pinpointed as one of the gunmen, Rappler reports.

“I want them hanged,” Mangudadatu told reporters before the verdict, “especially Unsay and his brothers; it was atrocious what they did,” he said in Filipino.

Noemi Parcon, whose husband, Joel, was one of the journalists killed in the massacre, told reporters, “It will be a slap in the face of the justice system in the Philippines if we don’t win this case.”

A few days before the closely watched trial, a Quezon City court had ordered Zaldy to be returned to his jail cell in Camp Bagong Diwa after nearly two months of confinement in a private hospital in Makati City following a stroke in October. Judge Reyes ruled that Ampatuan was fit to undergo rehabilitation in prison after state prosecutors last month appealed to have him returned to his cell, fearing that he would escape.

Read: Supreme Court allows postponement of Ampatuan massacre verdict to December

Malacañang Spokesman Salvador Panelo in a press conference earlier this week, said that the matter was in the hands of the justice system, but “we hope that justice will be given to the parties, especially to the prosecution.”

This morning on ANC’s “Early Edition,” University of the Philippines journalism professor Danilo Arao emphasized the significance of the trial.

“Today’s important because particularly the members of the Ampatuan clan, they are said to be the masterminds of the killings so if they get convicted, I’m hoping they will, then that would be historic in so far as statistics on culture of impunity would be concerned,” he said.

“The whole world is watching because this is something that interests people outside the Philippines given that we are supposed to be freest press in Asia but we’re one of the most dangerous places to practice journalism, and the Ampatuan massacre is such a glaring manifestation of that.”

Read: Philippines most dangerous country for journalists in Asia: Reporters Without Borders

“The challenge for media is to continue the coverage, [the] interest in this case, because the tendency of many courts would be to move faster if they know the media are watching,” he said.

 

Verdicts:

AMPATUAN CLAN

1.    Datu Andal U. Ampatuan, Jr. AKA Unsay – Guilty
2.    Datu Sajid Islam U. Ampatuan – Acquitted due to reasonable doubt
3.    Datu Zaldy “Puti” U. Ampatuan – Guilty
4.    Datu Akmad “Tato” Ampatuan, Sr. – Acquitted due to reasonable doubt
5.    Datu Anwar U. Ampatuan, Sr. – Guilty
6.    Datu Anwar Ampatuan, Jr. – Guilty
7.    Datu Anwar Sajid Ampatuan – Guilty

POLICE OFFICERS

8.    SPO2 George S. Labayan
9.    SPO1 Samad U. Maguindra
10.    PO3 Ricky D. Balanueco
11.    PO2 Rexson D. Guiama
12.    PO1 Mohammad K. Balading
13.    PO1 Marsman E. Nilong
14.    PO1 Pendatun A. Dima
15.    PInsp. Michael Joy Macaraeg – Guilty
16.    PO1 Amir Solaiman
17.    PO1 Sandy D. Sabang
18.    PO1 Jonathan Engid – Guilty
19.    PCI Sukarno A. Dicay – Guilty
20.    PSI Abdulgapor Abad
21.    PSupt. Abusama Mundas Maguid – Guilty
22.    PSupt. Bahnarin U. Kamaong – Guilty
23.    PSupt. Abdulwahid U. Pedtucasan
24.    SPO2 Oscar Donato
25.    SPO2 Badawi P. Bakal
26.    SPO1 Alimola L. Guianaton
27.    SPO1 Ali Mluk Solano
28.    SPO1 Elizer S. Rendaje
29.    PO3 Gibrael R. Alano
30.    PO3 Felix Ababao Daquilos
31.    PO3 Abibudin S. Abdulgani – Guilty
32.    PO3 Rasid Anton – Guilty
33.    PO3 Felix E. Eñate, Jr. – Guilty
34.    PO2 Hamad Nana – Guilty
35.    PO2 Kendatu S. Rakim
36.    PO2 Saudiar A. Ulah – Guilty
37.    PO2 Saudi Pasutan – Guilty
38.    PO1 Herich Amaba
39.    PO1 Badjun Ibad Panegas
40.    PO1 Datu Jerry M. Utto
41.    PO1 Abdula Baguadatu
42.    PO1 Tamano Sahibal Hadi
43.    PO1 Abdulbayan U. Mundas
44.    PO1 Esprielito G. Lejarso – Guilty
45.    PO1 Esmael Manuel Guialal
46.    PO1 Jimmy M. Kadtong
47.    PO1 Marjul T. Julkadi
48.    PO1 Abdurahman S. Batarasa
49.    PO1 Abdulmanan L. Saavedra
50.    PO1 Narkouk D. Mascud
51.    PO1 Arnulfo A. Soriano
52.    PO1 Rainer T. Ebus
53.    PO1 Ebara G. Bebot
54.    PO1 Michael M. Macarongon
55.    PO1 Anwar Masukat
56.    PInsp. Saudi M. Mukamad – Guilty
57.    PO2 Tany Dalgan
58.    PO1 Michael Madsig
59.    PO1 Pia Kamidon
60.    PO1 Ducoy Badal AKA Ahmad Camsa Badal
61.    PO1 Warden Legawan

ACCUSED ACCOMPLICES

62.    Takpan Dilon
63.    Datu Jimmy Ampatuan – Acquitted due to reasonable doubt
64.    Manny U. Ampatuan – Guilty
65.    Misuari A. Ampatuan – Guilty
66.    Jonathan S. Ampatuan
67.    Mohades A. Ampatuan
68.    Mohamad T. Datumanong – Guilty
69.    Datutuhon M. Esmael
70.    Alimudin S. Sanguyod
71.    Fahad Utto
72.    Samsudin M. Daud
73.    Theng P. Sali AKA Abdullah Hamid Abdulkahar
74.    Nasser S. Esmael AKA Nasrudin G. Esmael – Guilty
75.    Abedin Alamada AKA Kumander Bedi – Guilty
76.    Maot Bangkulat AKA Benjie Dagindingan
77.    Bong S. Andal
78.    Edres G. Kasan – Guilty
79.    Akad B. Macaton
80.    Taya M. Bangkulat – Guilty
81.    Salik S. Bangkulat – Guilty
82.    Tho A. Amino
83.    Malaguial S. Tanuri
84.    Zacaria P. Akil – Guilty
85.    Denga O. Mentol AKA Ronnu Ofong
86.    Samaon M. Andatuan
87.    Kudza Masukat Uguia – Guilty
88.    Salipad M. Tampogao
89.    Talembo “Tammy” Masukat AKA Talembo Kahar Abdulrakman – Guilty
90.    Sahid A. Guiamadil
91.    Mama Habib
92.    Kasim T. Lingkong
93.    Rakim M. Amil
94.    Norman M. Tatak
95.    Sonny K. Pindi AKA Bimbo S. Piang – Guilty
96.    Edris Tekay Nanding
97.    Thong E. Guiamano AKA Ibrahim Kamal Tatak – Guilty
98.    Armando O. Ambalgan AKA Omar Kayansang – Guilty
99.    Nasser M. Malaguia AKA Ramon Dadulo
100.    Norhato M. Kamino AKA Alfeche Banding

STATE’S WITNESSES

101.    Mohamad Sangki
102.    Sukarno Badal

This article, Guilty: Court convicts Ampatuan brothers over decade-old Maguindanao massacre, originally appeared on Coconuts, Asia's leading alternative media company. Want more Coconuts? Sign up for our newsletters!