Gov’t lawyers oppose Ampatuan clan member’s medical examination outside jail

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ANDAL Ampatuan Sr. (inset), alleged mastermind in the 2009 Maguindanao massacre of at least 57 political foes and journalists, has his back turned away from cameras during his arraignment at Camp Bagong Diwa in Taguig City. Relatives of victims gasped upon hearing his plea of not guilty. INQUIRER FILE PHOTO/RAFFY LERMA

MANILA, Philippines—State prosecutors are opposing a request by a member of the Ampatuan clan who has been charged with multiple murder in the Maguindanao massacre case to be examined at a government hospital on grounds he has not shown proof of his claim to be a diabetic and that the logistics for his transfer from a suburban Manila jail would be “troublesome.”

Last month the prosecutors also objected to a request by Akmad “Datu Tato” Ampatuan, nephew and son-in-law of former Maguindanao governor Andal Ampatuan, Sr.— the most prominent of the 196 accused in the case—to attend his daughter’s graduation.

In its opposition to Ampatuan’s request to be examined by doctors at a government hospital, the prosecution panel, headed by prosecutor Archimedes Manabat, asked Judge Jocelyn Solis-Reyes of the Quezon City Regional Trial Court’s Branch 221 to deny it, saying that his claim of being a diabetic was unsubstantiated and that the logistics for his transfer would prove “troublesome” for jail officials.

In their comment, the prosecutors faulted Ampatuan’s lawyer, Emmanuel Brotarlo, for failing “to offer a hint of proof to support his claims” on the detained suspect’s medical condition so it could be verified by the concerned parties.

“What the instant motion lacks in substance, it compensates (for) in its audacity as it assumes the honorable court would nonchalantly concede to the requested provisional release even on such flimsy assertions,” they said, adding that ion itself was ground for outright denial.

They further chided Ampatuan’s lawyer saying, “Why counsel for accused-movant (Ampatuan) failed to attach, let alone secure certification on the supposed ailments of the latter, from medical doctors and health workers at the BJMP (Bureau of Jail Management and Penology) medical facility/infirmary who could have readily examined accused-movant sadly speaks of both the ineptness of the counsel and the groundlessness of the assertions made.”

The prosecutors said Ampatuan was not being prevented from being examined by a doctor of his choice and  there was no showing that the medical examination needed  to be done outside the Quezon City Jail Annex at Camp Bagong Diwa, Bicutan in Taguig City, where he is detained.

They said that being among those charged with 58 counts of murder, Ampatuan was a flight risk and his travel would “necessarily entail troublesome logistics for the jail facility.”

The prosecution panel suggested that BJMP doctors evaluate Ampatuan’s medical condition and assess whether he could be treated in the detention facility, saying, “Accused-movant’s prayer that he be allowed to undergo medical examination by a government physician in a government medical facility outside BJMP, is still premature as his medical condition may be properly addressed, managed and/or treated by physicians/medical practitioners and allied health workers inside the BJMP, Camp Bagong Diwa.”

Judge Reyes gave Ampatuan five days to file a comment on the opposition raised by state prosecutors.

In a June 13 urgent motion for medical examination and/or treatment, Ampatuan asked Judge Reyes to be allowed an escorted medical treatment or complete medical checkup at a government hospital to avoid health complications that could endanger his life.

He claimed that he has been detained for more than three years and has been experiencing “frequent fatigue, weakness and dizziness.” He also  alleged that his “long and unjustified detention is already taking its toll” on his health.

He told the judge he had no intention to escape and his request was an invocation of his right to life and right against cruelty as he “still enjoys his constitutional right to be presumed innocent until proven guilty.”

He has another pending request in court to be permitted “as a father and human being” to be at his daughter’s July 6 graduation at the Philippine International Convention Center.

Ampatuan is a former mayor of the town of Mamasapano in Maguindanao, which members of the Ampatuan clan controlled from 1986 until they were dislodged from power in the province in the wake of the Nov. 23, 2009 slaughter of 58 persons, including 32 media workers, at Sitio Masalay, Barangay Salman in the municipality of Ampatuan.

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