DAVAO CITY (MindaNews/09 March) — Sajid Islam Uy Ampatuan, the youngest son of Andal Ampatuan, Sr. and one of his co-accused in the 2009 massacre in Ampatuan, Maguindanao of 58 persons, 32 of them from the media, is out on bail and the National Union of Journalists of the Philippines (NUJP) has expressed fears the release “can only be attributed to the prosecution’s faulty presentation of its case.”
“At best, because of incompetence, at worst as part of some nefarious deal, the NUJP said in a statement.
“We demand that the Department of Justice get to the bottom of this and move quickly to repair the damage lest a miscarriage of justice in this case be added to the long litany of sins against press freedom and justice this administration has committed,” the “terribly disappointed” NUJP said.
The Philippine Star reported on January 10 that Judge Jocelyn Solis-Reyes, through a 12-page omnibus order, granted bail to Sajid but denied the bail petition of his elder brother Anwar Ampatuan, Sr., and brother-in-law Akmad “Tato” Ampatuan.
Sajid was released from detention upon payment of a surety bond of 11.6 million pesos. The prosecutors will appeal the release order, interaksyon.com reported.
Judge -Reyes of the Quezon City Regional Trial Court Branch 221 under whose sala the trial for the accused in the November 23, 2009 Ampatuan Massacre, is being heard, ordered on Monday the temporary release from detention of Sajid fter he posted a surety bond amounting to P11.6 million.
Sajid had posted bail as early as January 30 but his temporary release was held in abeyance due to the partial motion for reconsideration filed by the prosecution panel questioning his temporary release, which the court junked, interksyon.com said.
“Accused Datu Sajid Islam Ampatuan, having posted the recommended bail of P200,000 each or a total of P11.6 million in the 58 cases, which the court finds in order … he is allowed to be on temporary liberty upon the same bond,” Solis-Reyes’ order said.
Interaksyon.com reported that Justice Secretary Leila de Lima directed the state prosecutors handling the case to “avail of the proper remedy as soon as possible.”
11.6 million pesos
“As we predicted, securing the amount, which most Filipinos can only dream about, was easy for a member of a clan that had built vast wealth, much of it ill-gotten, during a decade of misrule over Maguindanao province,” the NUJP added.
“We fear for the course of the search for justice for the 58 victims, 32 of them media workers, of the worst incident of electoral violence in recent Philippine history and the single deadliest attack on the press ever recorded.”
“As we said before, the grant of bail to Sajid, who was acting governor at the time of the massacre and would certainly have been in on the murderous plot, can only be attributed to the prosecution’s faulty presentation of its case. At best, because of incompetence, at worst as part of some nefarious deal,” the NUJP said.
Vice Gov, Gov
Sajid Islam Uy is the youngest son of former Maguindanao Governor Andal Ampatuan Sr., and his first wife Laila Uy. His elder brothers are principal suspects Andal Ampatuan, Jr., mayor of Datu Unsay town when the massacre happened; Anwar, then mayor of Shariff Aguak town; and Zaldy, then governor of the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM).
Sajid was his father’s running mate in the 2007 election. Andal Sr., ran for governor, Sajid for vice governor.
Sajid was described in oversized election campaign billboards along the Maguindanao highway as “a young leader with a big heart” while Andal Sr., was refered to as “a statesman: tested and proven” who was “an opposed candidate.”
Apparently the message was supposed to be “unopposed candidate” but whoever was in charge of the billboards didn’t check the spelling so what came out was “an opposed candidate.”
In fact, having run unopposed, there was no need for billboards and posters and other campaign paraphernalia.
Andal Ampatuan Sr., ran for a third term as governor He, his son Sajid, and the entire provincial slate for 20 out of 22 towns ran unopposed but voter turn out was above 90%, one town even as high as 99.78%.
Andal Ampatuan, Sr., resigned as governor in January 2009 with Sajid assuming the post of Governor. The mayor of Mamasapano town, Akmad “Tato” Ampatuan, husband of the Ampatuan’s eldest sister, was appointed OIC Vice Governor. But in a press conference after his State of the Region Address on November 9, 2009, in what turned out to be his last press conference, then ARMM Governor Zaldy Ampatuan, in response to a reporter’s query on who really was the OIC Governor, said it was his father, Andal Ampatuan, Sr.
While in detention in 2010, Sajid ran and won a seat in the Provincial Board. (Carolyn O. Arguillas / MindaNews)