Andal Ampatuan Jr.’s graft trial to continue as Sandiganbayan junks his motion
MANILA, Philippines – The trial of graft cases against former Maguindanao town mayor Andal Ampatuan Jr. will continue as the Sandiganbayan has decided that he is among the accused charged by the Office of the Ombudsman.
According to the resolution dated December 16, the Sixth Division refuted Andal’s claim that the cases against him have been dismissed as his name was supposedly excluded by the Ombudsman in the list of respondents.
Ampatuan, his brother former Maguindanao governor Sajid Islam Ampatuan, and other officials were charged with graft after the provincial government allegedly procured fuel products worth P238 million from a Shariff Aguak Petron Station, without public bidding.
The fuel station is said to be owned by Andal — the same man who was found guilty in the murder of 57 people including 32 journalists in the infamous Maguindanao massacre.
“Indeed, the dispositive portion of the Ombudsman’s Resolution when read by itself may lead one to conclude that the charges against accused Ampatuan had been dismissed, lumping him together with the other respondents who were not specifically named, in the sentence ‘[a]ll the other charges are hereby dismissed for insufficiency of evidence’,” the court said.
“But a reading of the body of said Resolution would clarify that the Ombudsman found that there was probable cause to indict accused Ampatuan for Violation of Sec 3(e) of R.A. No 3019 (Anti Graft and Corrupt Practices Act),” it added.
In the document penned by division chair and Associate Justice Sarah Jane Fernandez, it was deemed that the omission of Andal was a mere error, brought by the numerous accused individuals it had to note.
“Considering the voluminous records involved, the number of respondents, and the various charges against them, it is not implausible for the Office of the Ombudsman to have omitted accused Ampatuan’s name from the dispositive portion of said Resolution,” Fernandez said.
“But there is no indication that the dispositive portion intended to dismiss the charges against him,” she added.
The court’s decision is the latest in a slew of court losses that the Ampatuans incurred. Last December 19, the Quezon City Regional Trial Court’s Branch 221 convicted some clan members for orchestrating the November 2009 attack on the convoy that included then Buluan town mayor Esmael “Toto” Mangudadatu’s wife.
The convoy was set to file Mangudadatu’s certificate of candidacy, who was challenging the Ampatuan clan’s grip on the Maguindanao gubernatorial post.
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