Massacre witness stands by testimony vs Ampatuan
Janvic Mateo (The Philippine Star) - October 18, 2019 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines – A star witness in the Maguindanao massacre case surfaced yesterday to deny the allegation of suspect Andal Ampatuan Jr. that he will recant his testimony in the multiple murder case.

“Walang katotohanan ‘yan (There is no truth to that),” suspect-turned-state witness Sukarno Badal told Quezon City Regional Trial Court Branch 221 Judge Jocelyn Solis-Reyes when asked on the witness stand about the claim of Ampatuan.

“Gawa-gawa lang lahat ‘yan ni Unsay (Unsay just made it all up),” he added, referring to Ampatuan.

Speaking to reporters after the hearing, Badal said he will never recant his testimony in the decade-long trial.

“Kung anong nasabi ko sa testimony ko ‘yun na ‘yun. Mamatay na ako kung mamatay, hindi ko talaga babaligtarin ang Maguindanao massacre (Whatever I said in my testimony, that’s it. Even if I die, I will never change what I said in the Maguindanao massacre),” he said. 

Ampatuan, through his lawyer Paul Laguatan, asked the court last month to reopen the trial, claiming that a representative of Badal contacted him to inform him of the supposed intention of the witness to recant his testimony.

During the hearing, prosecutor Arthur Velasco asked the judge to deny the motion as the defense failed to present evidence that would warrant the reopening of trial.

He said the request was also premature, noting that the rule cited in the motion only allows reopening of trial after the conviction of a suspect.

Following Badal’s testimony, Velasco reiterated his request for the judge to dismiss the motion, saying it is anchored on hearsay that has been disproven in court.

Laguatan, after the prosecution informed Solis-Reyes that Badal was in the courtroom to refute the claim, said he does not have direct knowledge on the matter as the information only came from his client. 

He did not pose any question to Badal and declined to answer questions from the media after the hearing.

Solis-Reyes did not rule in open court, saying she has to refer to the stenographic notes on the testimony of Badal. She submitted the matter for resolution.

Delay

Maguindanao Rep. Esmael Mangudadatu, whose wife and sisters were among those who died in the massacre, said the request of Ampatuan to reopen the trial and suspend the period for the judge to decide on the case was another ploy to delay the proceedings.

He said Badal, a former vice mayor of Sultan sa Barongis town in Maguindanao, has earlier assured him that he will never recant his testimony.

“Narining natin na pinapasinungalingan niya lahat ng sinabi ni Unsay Jr., na ‘di pala totoo. (We heard him belying all those that were said by Unsay Jr., that it was not true),” he said of Badal’s testimony.

“(It was) just to delay the decision of the judge,” he said when asked about Ampatuan’s motion to reopen the trial.

Badal, a suspect whose charges were dropped in order for him to become a state witness, testified seeing Ampatuan shooting some of the victims of the Nov. 23, 2009 massacre.

He claimed to have been with Ampatuan and the other suspects when they stopped the convoy carrying Mangudadatu’s wife Genalyn and 57 other people, including 32 media practitioners.

Solis-Reyes earlier submitted the case for decision after the camp of Ampatuan failed to submit his memorandum, a document that would summarize his arguments on the case. 

The ruling is expected to be released prior to the 10th anniversary of the massacre next month.

Last month, the court allowed Laguatan – who had just entered his appearance in behalf of Ampatuan – to file his client’s memorandum by Oct. 14.

But instead of the memorandum, the lawyer filed a motion asking for the reopening of the trial and the suspension of the 90-day period for the judge to rule on the case.

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