Widower says to go after acquitted Maguindanao massacre suspect Sajid Ampatuan

ABS-CBN News

Posted at Dec 19 2019 03:15 PM | Updated as of Dec 19 2019 03:16 PM

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MANILA — A politician who was widowed in the Maguindanao massacre said Thursday he would look for legal remedies against the acquittal of a member of the Ampatuan clan, whose heads are among 101 who stood trial for murder in the decade-old case. 

Maguindanao Rep. Esmael "Toto" Mangudadatu said his lawyers would study the ruling that acquitted due to reasonable doubt Sajid Ampatuan, incumbent mayor of Shariff Saydona Mustapha, Maguindanao. 

Sajid, son of Ampatuan patriarch Andal Sr, was granted bail in 2015 before witnesses linking him to the slaughter came forward, said Mangudadatu, whose wife was among 58 killed in the Nov. 23, 2009 massacre. 

Maguindanao Rep. Esmael "Toto" Mangudadatu poses for a photo after a Quezon City court handed its verdict on the 10-year-old Maguindanao massacre case. Jonathan Cellona, ABS-CBN News

"Noong nag-ano siya ng bail, hindi pa mabigat gaano iyong kaniyang ano [kaso] pero pagdating ng ibang statements ng witnesses, bumigat. Hahanapan namin ng paraan iyon," he told reporters after the verdict that found several other Ampatuan members guilty. 

(Before he made bail, his case was not that heavy. It gained weight with the arrival of the statements of other witnesses. We will find a remedy for that.) 

The Ampatuans' private army allegedly stopped and strafed a convoy that was on its way to file Mangudadatu's certificate of candidacy for Maguindanao governor, in a challenge to the clan. 

Brothers Zaldy and Andal "Unsay" Ampatuan Jr. were sentenced to reclusion perpetua without parole, according to the 761-page ruling, which was partially read in court. They were sentenced to reclusion perpetua or up to 40 years in prison. 

Sajid earlier said he already cut ties with his family after he was removed as OIC governor of Maguindanao a month before the killings. 

A "not guilty" finding will bar any appeal on the criminal aspect as it would amount to double jeopardy, a constitutional right preventing an accused from being tried again for the same or similar charge following an acquittal or conviction. 

Thursday's ruling will help prosecute 80 suspects who are still at large, said Atty. Nena Santos, lawyer of the massacre victims.