GENERAL SANTOS CITY (MindaNews / 24 Oct) – Former Maguindanao governor and now 2nd District Rep. Esmael “Toto” Mangudadatu on Thursday questioned the apparent “special treatment” accorded to Zaldy Ampatuan, one of the principal accused in the infamous Maguindanao massacre that shocked the nation about a decade ago.
Rep. Esmael “Toto” Mangudadatu. MindaNews file photo by GG BUENO
Mangudadatu urged Thursday the Bureau of Jail Management and Penology (BJMP) to produce proof that Zaldy “is really seriously sick.”
The former governor of the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao is among the principal suspects in the November 23, 2009 massacre that killed 58 people, including 32 media workers.
Mangudadatu’s wife Genalyn and several female family members were among those killed in the country’s worst election-related violence and the single deadliest attack against media workers in the world.
“Zaldy, I learned last week, was also (allegedly) allowed to get out by the BJMP for medical attention. There should be a clear proof that he is suffering from a serious illness before he is allowed to seek medical attention outside the jail,” Mangudadatu said on the phone.
Also, Zaldy’s medical treatment outside the jail must be covered with a court order, he added.
On Wednesday, BJMP spokesperson Xavier Solda said that Zaldy was rushed to the hospital on Monday afternoon due to a cardiovascular disease, according to an Inquirer report.
Physicians declared that Zaldy was in a stable condition, the official said.
Mangudadatu noted that Zaldy must not be allowed to just get out for medical treatment without a court order because he is a “high-profile” suspect.
But if indeed Zaldy has a proven serious medical condition, Mangudadatu said he will not complain out of humanitarian consideration.
Last year, Zaldy also attended his daughter’s wedding at a posh hotel in Manila after securing a court order.
With less than a month before the 10th anniversary of the infamous massacre, Mangudadatu noted the trial moved slowly, but expressed hopes a verdict could be issued by then.
“We are expecting a guilty verdict for the principal suspects,” he said, also referring to Andal Ampatuan Jr.
Ampatuan Jr., former mayor of Datu Unsay town, allegedly led the gunmen who stopped and massacred the members of the convoy in a hilly portion of Ampatuan town.
The victims were en route to Shariff Aguak town to file Mangudadatu’s certificate of candidacy for governor, virtually challenging the Ampatuan’s grip on power.
Patriarch Andal Ampatuan Sr., former Maguindanao governor and also a principal suspect, died in 2015 while in custody due to an illness.
Mangudadatu said they “have overwhelming evidences and testimonies of witnesses that would pin down the principal suspects for the grisly massacre.” (Bong S. Sarmiento / MindaNews)