DAVAO CITY (MindaNews) – The Davao City-based lead lawyer of the Ampatuans wants former Defense Secretary, now the ruling party’s Presidential bet, Gilbert Teodoro, charged for rebellion like the Ampatuans for the Department of National Defense’s alleged involvement in proving the firearms dug in Shariff Aguak. Philip Pantojan told a press conference at the Grand Men Seng Hotel Wednesday noon that Teodoro should also be charged with rebellion as principal by direct participation.
Pantojan said the firearms and ammunition dug up were issued to the civilian volunteers organization (CVO) by the military when Teodoro was Defense Secretary, hence he should take the brunt along with the Ampatuans.
Teodoro was Defnse Secretary from August 2007 to mid-November 2009.
An arms cache dug up a few hundred meters from the mansion of the patriarch, Datu Andal Ampatunan, Sr., was estimated by the military to be supply a brigade-size. The ammunition boxes bore markings of Armscor, meaning it came from the Government Arsenal in Bataan. He said some of the boxes even indicate the date of manufacture, June 2009.
MindaNews sought Teodoro for comment but as of press time, there was no answer yet.
Pantojan said the declaration of martial law in Maguindanao from December 4 to 12 was part of thebgovernment’s conspiracy to wash its hands off the arms cache discovery because it would eventually point back to them as the provider.
“Sala sa gobyerno ipahid sa mga Ampatuan (the sin of the government is blamed on the Ampatuans)” Pantojan said.
The discovery of firearms cache supported the government’s rebellion case versus the Ampatuans.
Pantojan said they have been writing the government to provide them with the ballistic reports of the firearms that was said to be used in the massacre of 58 persons including 31 journalists but until now no report has been given to them. Fifare still ty-seven bodies have been recovered from the massacre site but the remains of Reynaldo “Bebot” Momay of Midland Review in Tacurong City have yet to be found. Only his dentures have been retrieved.
Pantojan said the Ampatuans, loyal allies of Malacanang, were deeply hurt by Malacanang’s abandonment of them. As early as the second day of the massacre, the ruling party, Lakas-Kampi, expelled the Ampatuans from the party. Another two days later, Teodoro accompanied Buluan vice mayor Esmael Mangundadatu’ to the provincial office of the Commission on Elections in Shariff Aguak, Maguindanao, to fild=e is cerffiling of certificate of candidacy for governor of Maguindanao.
Datu Andal Ampatuan, Jr., who was reported to have led about a hundred armed men in stopping the Mangudadatu women’s convoy morning of November 23, was supposed to have run for governor. His father was three-term governor.
Pantojan said the Ampatuans’ friends now refuse to dip their fingers in the case because of fear of being pstraHe said calls of the Ampatuans to their friends in position, who they
have helped in the past are now being rejected.
“The government has made them the smallest particle of this world,” Pantojan lamented.
The approval of the Supreme Court of the transfer of the rebellion case filed against the Ampatuans and more than 600 other from Cotabato City to Quezon City irked Pantojan as he said the transfer would “certainly result to a conviction of those accused who have no means of paying for a good defense and for airfare to Quezon City.”
He said many of the accused are farmers, bakers and workers who cannot afford the services of lawyers.
Earlier, Pantojan said the Ampatuans have about 80 lawyers – 40 in Manila and 40 in Mindanao – working on the cases 24/7. (MindaNews)