2 days before verdict, court orders Zaldy Ampatuan's return to jail

MANILA, Philippines – The Quezon City Regional Trial Court (RTC) Branch 221 has ordered the return of Ampatuan massacre principal accused Zaldy Ampatuan to his detention cell in Camp Bagong Diwa in Taguig, after nearly two months of confinement in a private hospital.

"The court finds that there is no longer any need for [Zaldy Ampatuan] to remain in the hospital as the procedure during rehabilitation session can be done to him as an outpatient," Judge Jocelyn Solis-Reyes said in an order signed Monday, December 16.

Ampatuan has been confined at the Makati Medical Center since suffering a stroke on October 22. He is one of the principal accused in the 2009 Ampatuan massacre that killed 58 people, 32 of them journalists, during a coverage on the filing of candidacy for Maguindanao governor in the 2010 elections.

Granting the request of the Department of Justice (DOJ) prosecution, Reyes said that "what is clear is that accused-movant is merely continuing medical management and rehabilitation to maximize the residual function and improve his strength."

The DOJ feared that Ampatuan's continued confinement at the Makati Med would give him an opportunity for escape, as the verdict on the case would happen on Thursday, December 19.

"Unless his attending physicians will execute a certification under oath that his return to the detention facility will endanger his life, reason dictates that the relief being prayed for in the Motion filed by the prosecution must be granted," Reyes said.

"The Jail Warden of Quezon City Jail-Annex, Camp Bagong Diwa, Bicutan, Taguig City, is hereby directed to immediately transport accused-movant Zaldy Ampatuan to the said detention facility," the judge added.

Reyes also said that only one lawyer per client is allowed to attend the promulgation of judgment on Thursday. (READ: Children bear the brunt 10 years since Ampatuan massacre)

Aside from Ampatuan, the other principal accused in the massacre are his brothers Andal Ampatuan Jr and Sajid Ampatuan. Andal Jr is in jail, while Sajid is out on bail.

The massacre is the single deadliest attack on journalists in the world, and the worst election-related violence in Philippine history. – Rappler.com

Lian Buan

Lian Buan covers justice and corruption for Rappler. She is interested in decisions, pleadings, audits, contracts, and other documents that establish a trail. If you have leads, email lian.buan@rappler.com or tweet @lianbuan.