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Binay booed after ties with Ampatuan brought up during debate

/ 08:32 PM April 24, 2016

DAGUPAN CITY, Philippines—Vice President Jejomar Binay was booed for claiming he supports the dismantling of private armed groups even though he has allied with a suspect in the grisly Maguindanao massacre.

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During the presidential debate at the Phinma-University of Pangasinan, Binay was asked about his position on the dismantling of private armed groups during the “fast talk” segment of the debate.

“Bubuwagin ba ang private armed groups?” host Karen Davila asked Binay.

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“Yes, yes of course,” Binay said.

“Kahit naging alyado niyo si Sajid Ampatuan, suspect ng Maguindanao massacre?” Davila said.

The crowd booed at Binay, who said he lamented the reaction of the audience.

He then went on to defend the Ampatuan son and said the latter was granted bail by the court because of weak evidence pinning him in the massacre.

“Mga kababayan, nakakalungkot ang reaksyon niyo. ‘Yung Ampatuan, tinaas ko ang kamay. Wala siya sa pagkakataon na nu’ng pangyayari ay siya ay nahabla,” Binay said.

During his campaign rally in Maguindanao on April 5, Binay raised the hands of Sajid in endorsing his mayoralty bid in Shariff Aguak, a stronghold of the Ampatuans.

READ: Binay supports mayoralty bid of Sajid Ampatuan

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In 2015, Sajid was ordered released after paying P11.6 million bail or P200,000 for each of the 58 counts of murder for the 58 persons, 32 of whom were journalists, who were gunned down by the Ampatuans’ alleged private army and buried in a shallow grave at a hilltop in Ampatuan, Maguindanao on Nov. 23, 2009.

The massacre came to be known as the single deadliest attack on journalists and the worst election-related violence in the country.

READ: Ampatuan out on bail

Sajid was the first Ampatuan to be out on bail. The Ampatuan patriarch Andal Ampatuan Sr. died of heart attack in July 2015.

READ: Andal Ampatuan Sr. is dead

Sajid’s brothers who are still detained over their alleged involvement in the massacre are former Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao governor Zaldy, former Shariff Aguak Mayor Anwar Sr., and former Datu Unsay Mayor Andal Jr.

UNA spokesperson Mon Ilagan earlier said the vice president endorsed Sajid because the party’s gubernatorial bet in Maguindanao Datu Ali Midtimbang backed Sajid’s mayoralty bid. IDL

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TAGS: Comelec debate, Elections 2016, Maguindanao massacre, Pangasinan debate, presidential debate, private arm groups, Sajid Ampatuan
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