Prosecutors want Zaldy Ampatuan in jail to prevent escape as ruling nears
Photos of the people killed in the Maguindanao massacre are seen during a rally in Manila yesterday to commemorate the 10th anniversary of the country’s worst political killing where 58 people, including 32 journalists, were slaughtered and dumped in roadside pits on Nov. 23, 2009.
The STAR/Krizjohn Rosales

Prosecutors want Zaldy Ampatuan in jail to prevent escape as ruling nears

Kristine Joy Patag (Philstar.com) - November 25, 2019 - 5:54pm

MANILA, Philippines — As the court ruling on the 2009 Ampatuan massacre nears, state prosecutors have asked the Quezon City court handling the multiple murder case against former regional governor Zaldy Ampatuan to transfer him back to jail.

In a Manifestation with Urgent Motion filed last Friday, the Department of Justice urged the Quezon City Regional Trial Court Branch 221 to order Ampatuan’s return to Camp Bagong Diwa in Taguig City from his confinement in a Makati hospital.

READ: Maguindanao massacre suspect Zaldy Ampatuan still in hospital

Ampatuan, one of the primary accused in the gruesome massacre, was brought to the hospital last October after suffering a stroke. He has since been confined at Makati Medical Center, where he is receiving physical and occupational therapy.

State prosecutors however pointed out that Ampatuan remains in the hospital “without any certainty and/or definite ate on when he will be finally discharged.”

Documents submitted to the court by the Bureau of Jail Management and Penology stated that Ampatuan is suffering from a recurring heart ailment, hypertension, diabetes mellitus and chronic atrial fibriliation.

'Therapy can be done inside jail'

While the prosecutors said they remain mindful of Ampatuan’s medical condition, “it is apprehensive that his alleged hospital confinement under the cloak of being still undergoing continuous physical and occupational therapy may provide him all the opportunity for convenient escape.”

“The prosecution panel, therefore, is of the view that accused Zaldy Ampatuan would do any last ditch move towards his liberty, be it resorting to his act of taking flight,” the motion further read.

The DOJ also said that the therapy Ampatuan is receiving may be done inside Camp Bagong Diwa.

If the accused’s continued retention in the hospital be necessary, the DOJ asked to augment the security personnel guarding him to prevent him from taking flight.

“In deference to this Honorable Court, it should now stop extending so much grace, sympathy or concern to accused Zaldy Ampatuan but has to act firmly and with an iron hand to prevent any untoward contingency while its decision is still underway,” the prosecutors added.

Quezon City RTC Branch 221 Judge Jocelyn Reyes has until December 20 to issue a ruling on the Maguindanao massacre, considered the worst election-related violence and attack on press freedom in the country.

November 23, Saturday, marked the 10th year since the Ampatuan massacre took the lives of 58 people, 32 of whom were journalists.

They were on their way to a local Commission on Elections office to witness the filing of the certificate of candidacy for then-Buluan Vice Mayor Esmael Mangudadatu when they were flagged and killed by gunmen in Ampatuan town.

Members of the Ampatuan clan, political rivals of the Mangudadatus, were accused of ordering the killing.

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