MANILA, Philippines — Former Maguindanao governor Andal Ampatuan Sr. and his relatives accused of the most brutal mass murder in memory enjoy special treatment in jail, including out-of-jail passes, relatives and lawyers of the victims said Thursday.
A shouting match between the opposing parties occurred at the warden’s office when the prosecution team was stopped from going up to the Ampatuans in their detention cells even after Judge Jocelyn Solis-Reyes of Quezon City Regional Trial Court Branch 22 allowed an on-the-spot inspection at Wednesday’s hearing.
Harry Roque, lawyer of some of the victims’ relatives, said two lawyer-friends told him they saw Andal Sr. dining at the posh Hotel Sofitel.
Maguindanao Gov. Ishmail Mangudadatu showed pictures of Andal Sr. sitting on a monobloc chair being given a massage by another inmate, of 11 people visiting Andal Sr. (even if an inmate was allowed only a maximum of three visitors each), and of the detention parking lot full of the Ampatuans’ luxury vehicles. He also said he has a video to prove that the Ampatuans get special treatment.
During a break at today’s hearing, relatives and lawyers of the 53 Ampatuan massacre victims rushed to the warden’s office so that they may be able to see for themselves the condition of Ampatuans’ detention.
But they were kept waiting for about an hour by the warden, Chief Inspector Glenford Valdepenas. Tension escalated when a lawyer of the Ampatuans, identified by a sister of one of the victims as Philip Ang, raised his voice, arguing against the on-the-spot inspection and said that only one from the prosecution and one from the defense will be allowed in the detention area.
“Bakit BJMP ka ba (Why, are you with the Bureau of Jail Management and Penology)? But we are also protected by law,” Mangungudatu said.
Roque argued that the relatives of all 53 victims are entitled to see the Ampatuans’ detention cells. If the number needs to be limited, there should be at least be a raffle that should also include the media, he said.
“Bakit may mga limit? May tinatago ba sila? (Why are they putting limitations? Are they hiding something?)” Roque said.
The commotion continued but Ang himself was able to sneak out of the warden’s office and go up to the detention area without any difficulty. When asked why he allowed Ang in, the jail guard on duty simply said: “E pumasok sya e (He simply entered).”
After the hearing, Mangungudatu went to the Department of Interior and Local Government to meet with Secretary Jesse Robredo to show him the pictures which indicate special VIP treatment for the Ampatuans.
Roque said he will also ask Robredo to compel Sofitel to show the contents of the closed-circuit television in the hotel that would prove what his lawyer-friends witnessed.
The Ampatuans are detained on the 3rd and 4th floors of the Quezon City Jail Annex inside Camp Bagong Diwa where the hearings are also being heard. The hearings are held on the first floor of the building.
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- [In the news] Massacre victims’ kin amend plunder raps vs Ampatuans – Nation – GMA News Online – Latest Philippine News (hronlineph.wordpress.com)
- [In the news] IFJ: Massacre case still moving slowly under Noy-The Daily Tribune – Without Fear or Favor (hronlineph.wordpress.com)
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