Suspect in the 2009 massacre of 57 people, was one a powerful Filipino clan leader, pleaded not guilty last Monday to charges of falsifying the election votes to favor former President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo’s associates.
Andal Ampatuan Sr. was accused on the charge of electoral sabotage and who is currently on trial for murder in the massacre. While Arroyo, his former political supporter, has pleaded not guilty to the same electoral charge.
Former Philippine elections Chief Benjamin Abalos, who doubted the court’s command and declined to enter a plea himself, were also granted a not guilty plea from the court.
Ampataun, is considered one of the most feared politicians in the country, together with his 3 sons and more than 150 gunmen they were charged of killing no less than 57 people, including 32 journalists, who were on their way to register the candidacy of a political opponent of the Ampatuans.
The ambush took place in Southern Maguindanao province in which they consider as the Ampatuans’ bailiwick where family members obtain several positions in the government which includes a governor and mayors of several towns named after them. It was reflected to be the worst political massacre in present Philippine history and also the worst solo murder of journalists in the world.
Ampatuan together with his affiliates have implored not guilty in the murder charges.
The 70-year old family head Ampatuan was brought to court from his detention compartment by a strongly armed police in a means of a wheelchair. He was treated for his illness namely pneumonia in a military hospital early this month that’s why his prosecution has been cancelled twice.
A former provincial administrator, Norie Unas, was the main witness in the electoral sabotage. In line with this Norie says that he heard Arroyo commanded Ampatuan days before the 2007 elections to ensure her success for all 12 senatorial candidates linked with her.
“It should be 12-0 in Maguindanao, even if the results have to be fixed or changed,” Unas quoted Arroyo as saying in his affirmation to which Ampatuan replied, “Yes, ma’am.
No opposition candidate won in Maguindanao that year and years later after the election proper they found evidence of vote tampering.
Temporarily one of the grandsons of Ampatuan also included in nearly 100 massacre suspects at large was pointed in by his mother and taken into detention.
Anwar Ampatuan Jr.’s mother who is a town mayor, dreaded for her son’s life after he was harmed in a bomb explosion last Sunday, according to Col. Mayorlago Dela Cruz. It was not still visible who was behind the flash.
The relatives of the massacre victims’ condemned the slow monitoring of the trial which was opened in Manila last 2010.