Binay defends Ampatuan son in UNA ticket
MANILA, Philippines – Vice President Jejomar Binay affirmed his support for the mayoral bid of Datu Sajid Ampatuan, one of the suspects in the 2009 Maguindanao massacre who is currently out on bail.
“Inendorso ko siya (I endorsed him),” Binay told reporters in Quezon City on Thursday, April 7, when asked about Ampatuan's attendance of a United Nationalist Alliance (UNA) proclamation rally in Talayan town, Maguindanao, on Tuesday.
Sajid, running for Shariff Aguak mayor, is among the Ampatuans who are running for office under UNA. With him at the UNA proclamation rally were reelectionist Maguindanao Mayor Benzar and Datu Hoffer mayoral candidate Bai Kristina, daughter of ex-Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao governor Zaldy.
The Ampatuan clan is suspected to have orchestrated the Maguindanao massacre, which killed 58 individuals including 32 journalists, to derail the political plans of rival and incumbent Maguindanao Governor Esmael Mangudadatu in 2010. (READ: 6 updates on the Maguindanao massacre's 6th year)
Suspects include the late patriarch and former Maguindanao governor Andal Sr, and his sons Sajid, Zaldy, Andal "Unsay" Jr and Anwar Sr.
“‘Yung batang 'yun, ‘yung mayor na 'yun, 5 taon na nakulong ’yun. At batay sa mga ebidensya, binigyan siya ng piyansa. Pagka binigyan siya ng piyansa, mahina ang ebidensya. At sang-ayon sa naririnig ko doon, siya lang talaga ang wala sa lugar na iyon sa mga oras na iyon,” said Binay, a lawyer.
(That kid, that mayor, was detained for 5 years. Based on the evidence, he was granted bail. When he was granted bail [it means the evidence is weak]. Based on what I heard, he was really not around during the time [of the massacre].)
The Quezon City Regional Trial Court allowed Sajid’s temporary release on March 9, 2015 after the Maguindanao massacre suspect posted bail worth P11.6 million for the 58 cases filed against him. (READ: Grand welcome for Ampatuan son out on bail)
According to Binay, there is no turning back on his endorsement of Sajid, whose relatives also support Binay’s candidacy.
“Wala namang balikan ’yun. Itinaas mo ang kamay, ‘di kandidato mo siya (It’s not about reciprocity. You raised his hand, then he’s your candidate),” said the Vice President.
Binay, who faces multiple corruption allegations, then reiterated that when the evidence against a suspect is weak, the rule of law will grant him justice. (READ: Ombudsman upholds criminal charges vs VP Binay, son)
“Uulitin ko lang: Katulad ng sinabi ko sa 'yo, corruption, corruption, allegation, allegation. Dahil sa may malungkot na nangyari, na talaga namang pinatay at minasaker. Pero ‘yung hindi talaga kasama, wala naman talagang kasalanan…at least nakita mong may hustisya,” he said.
(I will repeat what I have been saying about corruption and allegation. What happened is saddening because people were killed and massacred.But for those people who weren’t really responsible for that, at least we can see they are being granted justice),” Binay added.
The Maguindanao massacre is the worst case of election-related violence in the Philippines. The case against the suspects have dragged on, as some witnesses had been killed. (READ: Another Maguindanao massacre witness killed in ambush)
In December 2015, 20 policemen were dismissed and 11 others suspended for being "co-conspirators" in the massacre. – Rappler.com
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