Zaldy Ampatuan: Maguindanao Gov. Esmael ‘Toto’ Mangudadatu is my friend
The camp of former Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) Gov. Zaldy Ampatuan on Thursday denied being behind the bombing attack on the convoy of Maguindanao Gov. Esmael “Toto” Mangudadatu, saying that the accused in the Maguindanao massacre case bore the governor no ill will.
Lawyer Howard Calleja, Zaldy Ampatuan’s counsel, said his client would even support Mangudadatu if Malacañang chose him to become officer-in-charge of ARMM.
Two persons were killed and six others injured in a car-bomb attack on the seven-vehicle convoy of Mangudadatu in Tacurong City on August 15. Police said that the bomb, which was attached to a car parked at the roadside, was detonated by a mobile phone.
“If the President thinks he is fit for it, Gov. Zaldy will give his support and cooperation,” Calleja said during a break at the Maguindanao massacre trial. “He will support reforms in the ARMM. If it will result in the development of the region, Zaldy would support it.”
No ill feelings
Calleja added, “(Zaldy) wishes him well in whatever he does. He considers Toto as his friend. He bears no ill feeling.”
Calleja said he talked with Ampatuan and his client was “surprised” when he heard that Mangudadatu’s convoy was bombed in Tacurong.
“He was saddened and surprised. That is why he is wondering (why he is being linked to the crime),” Calleja said. “He is worried that there would again be a trial by publicity.”
Calleja said his client had no plans of going back to politics were he released.
“He intends to help as a private citizen,” Calleja said. He added that Ampatuan also supported Malacanang’s decision to defer elections in the ARMM.
Offer to testify
He also reiterated his client’s offer to testify in the Maguindanao massacre trial and in investigations on electoral fraud.
“If they allow him to help in this (massacre) case, it could be over in less than a year,” Calleja said.
At Thursday’s hearing, defense lawyers cross-examined government witnesses Army Corporal Zaldy Raymundo and militiaman Esmael Amil.
Complainant Arlyn Lupogan also testified about the death in the massacre of her husband Lindo Lupogan, a correspondent of the Mindanao Daily Gazette and the Metropolitan Gazette in Davao. She is seeking P20.1 million in damages.
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