Two more Ampatuans arraigned

TWO MORE of the principal accused pleaded “not guilty” on 2 October 2013 to 58 counts of murder in connection with the 23 November 2009 Ampatuan, Maguindanao massacre.

Branch 221 of the Regional Trial Court of Quezon City held the arraignment of brothers Anwar “Datu Ipi” Ampatuan Jr. and Anwar Sajid “Datu Ulo” Ampatuan today at the makeshift court in the premises of the Quezon City Jail Annex in Camp Bagong Diwa, Taguig.

Ipi, who came in a wheelchair assisted by a fellow detainee, was arrested in March 2012 while confined in a hospital nursing injuries he sustained after a bomb he and alleged MILF members were carrying exploded prematurely. Authorities arrested Ulo while he was allegedly in hiding in Paranaque City sometime in August 2012.

The Court deferred the pre-trial and preliminary conference for the two Ampatuans in anticipation of the arraignment in the coming days of others accused in the same crime.

The Court clarified that it will allow not only Andal “Unsay” Ampatuan Jr. but also any other accused persons to present evidence in support of their petitions for bail. The Court in its February 2011 order granted the petition of Unsay’s lawyers to refute prosecution evidence during the bail hearings. Presentation of defense evidence will take place after the Court rules on the prosecution’s formal offers of evidence in connection with the bail petitions. More than 60 of the accused have filed petitions for bail.

Witness Efren Macanas was again called to the witness stand to identify accused and fellow backhoe driver Bong Andal. Both Macanas and Andal operated the backhoe machines used to bury the bodies of the massacre victims and their vehicles. Before Macanas could point to Andal, and for expediency, the defense stipulated that the Bong Andal mentioned by Macanas was the same person named as accused in the murder case. (CMFR)