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 Ex-ARMM chief stays accused in massacre case

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PostSubject: Ex-ARMM chief stays accused in massacre case   Fri Oct 08, 2010 9:13 am

MANILA, Philippines—The former governor of the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) and one of the accused in the Maguindanao massacre has suffered yet another legal setback.

The Court of Appeals Thursday denied Zaldy Ampatuan’s motion that it instantly resolve his earlier petition to reverse the Department of Justice resolution reinstating him as an accused in the case.

Zaldy Ampatuan is a brother of Andal Ampatuan Jr., the prime suspect in the massacre.

The court also partially granted the motion of the Office of the Solicitor General (OSG) to accept its comment on Zaldy Ampatuan’s petition.

The OSG’s comment was passed on Sept. 21, or five days after the second deadline set by the appellate court.

Memoranda required

Instead of acting on Zaldy Ampatuan’s request that his petition be resolved without the OSG’s position, the court ordered his lawyers and the OSG to submit their respective memoranda.

“In the interest of justice, the comment filed by the [OSG] is admitted,” Associate Justice Danton Bueser stated in an order concurred in by Associate Justices Noel Tijam and Marlene Gonzales-Sison.

He directed the parties concerned “to file their respective memoranda within the inextendible period of seven days.”

Bueser said the failure of any party to submit the required papers would not stop the court’s 11th division from deciding on the matter.

Agra’s resolution

The former ARMM governor, who is detained in a police camp in Taguig City with his father Andal Sr. and other family members, had sought the immediate resolution of his appeal.

In his original petition, Zaldy Ampatuan said then Justice Secretary Alberto Agra committed grave abuse of discretion in issuing a May 5 resolution reinstating him as an accused in the slaughter of 57 people on Nov. 23, 2009.

In a controversial April 16 resolution, Agra removed Zaldy Ampatuan and his cousin Akmad Ampatuan from the list of respondents in the case.

The resolution triggered a firestorm of protests, with Department of Justice state prosecutors threatening to resign in a show of disgust.

But in his petition, the former governor said Agra erred when he accepted the affidavit of a new witness, Abdul Talusan, as part of the supplemental motion for reconsideration filed by lawyer Nena Santos.

Zaldy Ampatuan said Agra deprived him of his right to due process “when the former secretary gave weight to Talusan’s testimony.”

He said that he had learned of Talusan’s affidavit only from media reports, and that he was “therefore not afforded any opportunity to controvert [it].”

Marlon Ramos, Phil. Daily Inquirer
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