8 accused in massacre case want to register as voters for ARMM pollsBy Julie M. Aurelio
Philippine Daily Inquirer
Eight of the 195 accused in the 2009 Maguindanao massacre want a Quezon City court to allow them to register as voters in the Autonomous Region for Muslim Mindanao for next year’s elections.
Lawyer Paris Real, representing the civilian accused, said his clients should be allowed to exercise their constitutional rights as voters in the 2013 polls since they have not been convicted of any crime.
In a three-page motion, Sajid Ampatuan, Anwar Ampatuan Sr., Anwar Ipi Ampatuan Jr., Akmad “Tato’” Ampatuan Sr., Nasser Esmael, Nicomedes Tolentino, Bulatukan Omar Kayansang and Datutulon Malaguial Esmail appealed to the Quezon City Regional Trial Court Branch 221 to order the Commission on Elections to let them to register as ARMM voters from July 9 to 19, 2012.
“The above-mentioned persons cannot go to Mindanao to register as voters as they have been erroneously accused and are being baselessly incarcerated in connection with the Maguindanao Massacre cases,” their pleading read.
The staff of RTC Branch 221 Judge Jocelyn Solis-Reyes received the request to be allowed to register last week.
Real explained that he wrote Comelec chair Sixto Brillantes on June 27 to ask that his clients be allowed to register either in their detention cells at Camp Bagong Diwa in Taguig City or in any place convenient or suitable to the commission.
However on July 7, Atty. Judy Lorenzo, chief of the Comelec’s precinct division, advised Real to seek a court order for the accused to be able to register within the said period.
The eight accused are among the 195 charged for the deaths of 57 people on Nov. 23, 2009 in Maguindanao province.
Members of the Ampatuan clan, including primary accused Andal Ampatuan Jr., lead the charge list which includes the family’s supporters, militiamen and policemen.