Ignore Zaldy, Mangudadatu urges Aquino | Inquirer News

Ignore Zaldy, Mangudadatu urges Aquino

Saying that President Aquino knew what it was like to have a love one murdered, Governor Esmael “Toto” Mangudadatu on Wednesday appealed to the Chief Executive to stop Zaldy Ampatuan’s attempt to become a state witness in the massacre cases.

Mangudadatu told reporters during a break in the trial that the prosecution also had three more witnesses, besides Lakmodin Saliao, who would show that Zaldy had a major role in the massacre, which left 58 persons dead.

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“My appeal to the President is for him to reject this move by Zaldy to become a state witness,” said the Maguindanao governor.

“The President is a good man. He knows what happened to his father,” said Mangudadatu, who lost his wife, two sisters, and other relatives in the massacre.

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President Aquino’s father, the late Sen. Benigno “Ninoy” Aquino III, was assassinated at the Manila International Airport in 1983.

“This is like taking a rock and hitting yourself with it,” Mangudadatu said, adding that he has sought an audience with the President.

No bearing

In TV interviews, Zaldy had hinted that he was prepared to testify even against his father, former Maguindanao Gov. Andal Ampatuan Sr., and brother Datu Unsay Mayor Andal Jr. in the massacre case.

Sigfrid Fortun, the counsel of the two, said he did not believe that Zaldy’s testimony would affect his clients’ case.

He said that Justice Secretary Leila de Lima should not have dismissed outright the possibility that Zaldy could become a state witness.

“She should not have said that … The prosecution has taken in as witnesses even those who admitted that they fired their guns (at the massacre site),” Fortun said.

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“What’s the difference between them and (Zaldy)? That he’s an Ampatuan?” he added.

Playing with facts

Private prosecutor Nena Santos denied that the prosecution had witnesses who were involved in the actual killings on Nov 23, 2009.

“Attorney Fortun is playing with his facts. There is nothing in the records which show that our witnesses fired their guns,” Santos said.

A source in the Quezon City jail annex in Camp Bagong Diwa, Bicutan, Taguig City, said Zaldy met last week in his cell with all the jailed Ampatuans, including the clan patriarch, but not his brother Andal Jr.

“His family asked for the meeting but Unsay was not there. I haven’t seen Unsay and Zaldy talk to each other during their stay here,” said the source.

Security precautions

The source added that Zaldy had been transferred to the third floor of the prison building while his father and siblings were on the fourth floor.

As an added security precaution, Zaldy would have to approve first all those who want to see him before they can visit his cell. Quick-response police teams inside the Camp Bagong Diwa have also been put on heightened alert, the source said.

“He continues to have medical problems. Yesterday, he was shouting because he had difficulty breathing. He also had an allergic reaction,” the source added.

A member of the prosecution team said they were prepared to “leave the case” should Malacañang order them to exonerate Zaldy, whom they claim is guilty.

“We won’t be like the Garcia prosecutors who said they were just following orders,” the prosecutor said, referring to the Ombudsman lawyers who entered into a much-criticized plea bargain in the plunder case against the former Armed Forces comptroller, Maj. Gen. Carlos Garcia.

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TAGS: Crime, Esmael Mangudadatu, Maguindanao massacre, Philippines, Zaldy Ampatuan
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