Probe Zaldy Ampatuan furlough — Mangudadatu
Maguindanao 2nd District Rep. Zaid Mangudadatu said he intends to file the resolution before the House committee on justice at the earliest on Tuesday.
Edd Gumban
Probe Zaldy Ampatuan furlough — Mangudadatu
Emmanuel Tupas (The Philippine Star) - August 25, 2018 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines — A lawmaker whose relatives were murdered in the infamous 2009 Maguindanao massacre will file a resolution seeking an investigation on the granting of furlough to one of the prime suspects.

Maguindanao 2nd District Rep. Zaid Mangudadatu said he intends to file the resolution before the House committee on justice at the earliest on Tuesday.

“We want an investigation, inquiry on the approval of the furlough,” he said during the Pandesal Forum in Quezon City.

The 43-year-old Mangudadatu, who lost six relatives in the mass killings, was referring to the temporary liberty granted to former Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) governor Zaldy Ampatuan, which allowed him to leave his detention cell and attend the wedding of his daughter Tuesday at the Sofitel Philippine Plaza hotel in Pasay City.

Quezon City Regional Trial Court Branch 221 Judge Jocelyn Solis-Reyes granted Ampatuan’s request, citing humanitarian considerations.

If his resolution is approved, Mangudadatu said they plan to invite Reyes as among the resource persons since he wants to clarify why they were not informed of the furlough granted to Ampatuan.

The lawmaker’s camp learned that Ampatuan was also allowed to attend the graduation of one his children in a university somewhere in Metro Manila last June.

It appears, according to Mangudadatu, that there are no specific guidelines on furlough applications of the accused and that an approval depends on the discretion of the judge.

“What about the poor prisoners without the money and power requesting (for furlough)?” he said.

But he clarified they are satisfied with the way Reyes has been hearing the case for nine years.

“We have no problems except for this granting of the furlough,” said Mangudadatu.

Mangudatatu added that they were greatly dismayed with the furlough given to Ampatuan whom they consider as among the principal suspects in the massacre where 58 people, including at least 30 journalists, were killed.

“Nine years until today, we are still enduring the indiscriminate assault of the Ampatuans to the dignity and memory of our dead families with the unabashed attitude of (Zaldy),” he said.

“We refuse to live off the image of one of the perpetrators out in public witnessing his daughter’s wedding while our dead sisters, brothers, mothers, fathers will never be able to attend a wedding of their loved ones,” added Mangudadatu.

He vowed that they will contest future requests for furlough from any of the accused. He also appealed to the court to be considerate about their situation.

“While we respect the court having the discretion to grant such, we appeal for careful evaluations of future furlough applications from any of the (accused),” said Mangudadatu.

However, they remain optimistic that they will get a conviction under the administration of President Duterte.

“We are very optimistic he will support a conviction. He is for the masses,” Mangudadatu said of Duterte.

On the issue that some of his relatives attended the wedding, such as Sultan Kudarat Gov. Pax Mangudadatu, he admitted that they were not comfortable.

“He explained to us the situation but it would have been better if they did not attend,” the lawmaker said.

The court allowed Ampatuan to attend the wedding of his daughter, Bai Nur Aila.

Meanwhile, the National Union of Journalists of the Philippines (NUJP) accused government prosecutors of doing nothing to prevent Ampatuan from going to the wedding at a luxury hotel.

“We all know that most people accused of lesser offenses almost never get to enjoy a privilege as that granted (Zaldy). What made him an exception to the rule? Surely, his camp would have had to petition the court well in advance. Where were the state prosecutors in all this? Did they contest the petition? Perhaps, more importantly, did they even inform the families of the victims and other parties to the case?” NUJP asked in a statement.

“At the very least, the prosecution owes the public a full account and credible explanation,” it said.

Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra said the group should blame the court, since prosecutors objected to the grant of furlough. – With Jess Diaz, Janvic Mateo

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