Andal Jr. wants to reopen massacre trial
Janvic Mateo (The Philippine Star) - October 16, 2019 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines — Claiming that a state witness in the Maguindanao massacre trial wants to recant his testimony, the lawyer of suspect Andal Ampatuan Jr. has asked the court to reopen the trial and suspend ruling on the multiple massacre case.

Lawyer Paul Laguatan, in a six-page motion filed before the Quezon City Regional Trial Court Branch 221 on Monday, claimed that suspect-turned-state witness Sukarno Badal has contacted his client through a representative to express his intention to recant his testimony.

Badal, a former suspect whose charges were dropped in order for him to become a state witness, supposedly claimed that the evidence presented against Ampatuan during the trial were not true.

The supposed communication transpired on Oct. 4, more than a week before the motion was filed before the court on Monday.

Monday was also the deadline set by Judge Jocelyn Solis-Reyes for Laguatan to file in behalf of his client the defense memorandum, which would summarize their position on the case prior to the promulgation of judgment. 

In his motion, Laguatan asked the court to reopen the trial and suspend the 90-day period for the court to render a decision on the case.

He cited the Rules of Court, which allow judges to reopen the trial “to avoid a miscarriage of justice.”

The lawyer alleged that the seriousness of the allegations of Badal during his testimony is undisputed.

“We cannot turn a blind eye on this development and hide behind the often-used excuse of speedy justice. After all, it is the accused, who continues to rot behind bars, who has more to lose,” it added.

No sworn affidavit was submitted to the court that would prove Laguatan’s claim that Badal’s representative has indeed contacted his client.

Other than the motion filed by Laguatan, the court also received no other information on the supposed intention of Badal to recant his testimony.


Badal, former vice mayor of Sultan sa Barongis town in Maguindanao, previously testified seeing Ampatuan shooting the victims of the massacre.

One of the highlights of his testimony was the supposed mistranslation of the word “media” that sealed the fate of the massacre victims.

In his testimony, the details of which discussed in the joint order that denied the bail petition of the late suspect former Maguindanao governor Andal Ampatuan Sr., Badal said the elder Ampatuan called his son over the radio to check on the situation on the day of the massacre.

Badal claimed that he heard Andal Jr. told his father that the only those that remained alive were members of the media (media na lang ang natira), to which the former governor responded: “pa-media media ka pa, ubusin mo na yan.”

Badal said the elder Ampatuan may have thought that his son was telling him that half of the victims were still alive when he called.

The word “media,” in Spanish, can be loosely translated to average, mean or half.

Badal said everything became clear to the former governor when he called again after the shooting, when he asked Andal Jr. to clarify what he meant when he said media.

“Media, mass media,” Andal Jr. allegedly told his father, as quoted by Badal.

According to witness, he heard Andal Sr. mutter that all of them would be jailed after realizing that members of the media were killed in the massacre.

Badal was among those who were allegedly with Andal Jr. and some 100 men when the convoy led by Genalyn Mangudadatu, wife of then Buluan vice mayor and now Rep. Esmael Mangudadatu, was stopped and brutally murdered.

Fifty-eight people, including 32 media practitioners, died in the massacre, dubbed as the single worst incident for journalists in history.

Solis-Reyes has submitted the case for decision, which is expected to be promulgated before the 10th anniversary of the massacre next month.

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