Sandiganbayan: Enough evidence vs Andal Ampatuan Jr in graft case

GRAFT CASE. The Sandiganbayan says prosecutors presented enough evidence against Ampatuan brothers Sajid (left) and Andal Jr.

GRAFT CASE. The Sandiganbayan says prosecutors presented enough evidence against Ampatuan brothers Sajid (left) and Andal Jr.

MANILA, Philippines – The Sandiganbayan denied former Datu Unsay, Maguindanao mayor Andal Ampatuan Jr's bid to challenge the prosecution's evidence in a graft case.

In a resolution dated September 4, the anti-graft court shot down Ampatuan's argument that the prosecution failed to prove there was conspiracy between him and his brother, former Maguindanao governor Datu Sajid Ampatuan. 

The two are facing graft charges in relation to the allegedly anomalous 2009 procurement of fuel and lubricant worth P22.37 million.

"After a full consideration of the evidence presented by the prosecution, the court finds that the same appear to be prima facie sufficient to warrant the conviction of the accused beyond reasonable doubt for violation of [Republic Act] 3019, Section 3 (e)...unless effectively contradicted by evidence for the accused," the Sandiganbayan 5th Division said.

The red flags in the procurement, according to prosecutors, include the lack of public bidding, the purchase that was more than the capacity of the Petron station in Shariff Aguak owned by Andal Jr, and the number of accomplished projects not proportionate to the purchased fuel.

The Sandiganbayan also noted that while the purchase requests, orders, and disbursement vouchers were all signed by Datu Sajid, it seems Andal Jr benefited as well.

"Even if there is no single signature of Datu Andal Ampatuan Jr that appears in the prosecution's documentary evidence, he remains to have benefited from the payment of the reported fictitious procurement," the Sandiganbayan said.

"Unless satisfactorily explained to the contrary, the logical inference from these circumstances point to the conspiracy of the accused," the court added. 

Andal Jr is also facing criminal cases involving graft, malversation of funds, and falsification of public documents based on findings by the Office of the Ombudsman.

Aside from graft, Sajid and Andal Jr are both suspects in the 2009 Maguindanao massacre where 58 people were killed. Their father, Maguindanao massacre principal suspect Andal Ampatuan Sr, died in 2015.

Not a single person has been convicted for the massacre, which is considered the worst case of election-related violence in the country–