Here’s my proof
By Raïssa Robles
If the Aquino government believes Zaldy Ampatuan’s version of the massacre, it will have to throw away one vital state witness who has consistently said he not only heard and saw Zaldy Ampatuan, his dad Andal Sr. and younger brother Andal Jr. plan the massacre together. This witness also said he was part of the group of Andal Jr. that snatched the 57 victims and killed them in cold blood.
The Aquino government will also have to accept that Zaldy Ampatuan was lying before, but now he’s telling the truth.
As part of the proof, I am providing lower down this story portions of the state witness’ sworn affidavit saying he saw Zaldy during the planning session the night before the massacre.
Zaldy Ampatuan’s recent “revelation” to ABS-CBN TV effectively contradicts what the state witness said.
Zaldy Ampatuan said he wasn’t there when the massacre was planned but both his dad and brother Andal Jr. were. The state witness said Zaldy was also there.
Zaldy Ampatuan also implicated his brother Andal Jr. as the mastermind, thereby contradicting the state witness who pointed to Andal Sr. as the mastermind.
Zaldy Ampatuan is contradicting his own previous statements
But unlike the state witness, Zaldy Ampatuan is now reversing himself.
Zaldy Ampatuan’s recent statements are actually a stunning reversal of the statements he made one week after the massacre on November 23, 2009.
Zaldy Ampatuan had called a news conference on Nov. 29, 2009 inside his mansion in Shariff Aguak, Maguindanao. At that time, he told The Philippine Daily Inquirer that his brother Andal Jr. was innocent.
Here is a screen capture of a portion of that news story that appeared in the PDI:
The Associated Press was present in the same Nov. 29 news conference. It quoted Zaldy Ampatuan as saying that he and his dad Andal Sr. were innocent. Here is a screen capture of a portion of that AP report:
I am not a lawyer, but I’ve always remembered what my father, a University of the Philippines College of Law professor on Evidence used to tell me over our breakfast table: In assessing evidence one tends to give more weight to accounts that are made closer to the crime incident when witness recall tends to be fresh. And if there is a dramatic change in someone’s recollection of the same event over time, it is important to ask why.
And so I asked myself why Zaldy Ampatuan has dramatically changed his tune. Why he’s now saying his dad and brother were not at all innocent but actually planned the massacre together without him. And why he’s pointing to Andal Jr. as the mastermind.
Zaldy Ampatuan now claims his father and brother had two planning sessions for the massacre on two separate dates. He claims not being present during both occasions. However, Zaldy now claims a police officer who was present during the November 19, 2009 planning session has since disclosed to him what was discussed on that day. That makes his claim pure hearsay.
But why mention November 19 in particular?
Here is what I’ve come up with
From Day One, Zaldy Ampatuan has always insisted on his own innocence. He has always said he was never in on the planning. He also said that on massacre day, he was inside Malacanang Palace and no less than the Philippine president then, Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, could attest to that.
However, there is one vital witness named Kenny B. Dalandag who has consistently contradicted Zaldy Ampatuan’s assertion of not being in on the planning.
Dalandag said he saw Zaldy Ampatuan with his own eyes meet with Zaldy’s dad and brother on November 22, 2009, the night before the massacre. Dalandag said that was when Zaldy’s dad Andal Sr. gave Andal Jr. the order to kill all in the Mangudadatu convoy, “including children.”
Based on Dalandag’s assertion, Andal Sr. was the mastermind.
Dalandag is a vital witness for the prosecution. Last month, the Ampatuans, through their lawyer Sigfrid Fortun, went all the way to the Supreme Court to try to stop Dalandag from testifying in court.
It was mainly because of Dalandag’s testimony that Zaldy Ampatuan was included in the list of suspects. But two years after the massacre, Zaldy Ampatuan has yet to be arraigned in court, mainly because Dalandag’s testimony has not been entered into the court records.
Dalandag hasn’t testified yet. Mainly because the Ampatuans NEVER WANT HIM TO TESTIFY AND ARE DOING ALL THEY CAN TO BLOCK HIS TESTIMONY.
April last year, Arroyo’s Justice Secretary Alberto Agra tried to waste Dalandag’s affidavit. He dropped Zaldy Ampatuan from the list of suspects and said there was no conspiracy among the children and father. Philippine Star‘s Sandy Araneta filed this report on Agra’s news conference:
“Existence of conspiracy was not proven and being relatives and having similar surnames does not mean there was conspiracy,” Agra said.
Agra also said documentary evidence proved that Zaldy Ampatuan was not at the crime scene at the time of the massacre.
“There’s no proof of conspiracy so it gave weight to Zaldy Ampatuan’s alibi. I cleared Zaldy based on the evidence he presented, consisting of plane tickets and cell phone records that he was not in Maguindanao at the time of the massacre, and a witness who testified that he was not in Maguindanao at the time,” Agra said.
The storm of outrage following Agra’s move made Agra reconsider and reinstate Zaldy Ampatuan as a co-conspirator.
Now, what if Zaldy Ampatuan is made a state witness?
Then Zaldy Ampatuan’s testimony will contradict that of Dalandag, whose testimony has been hanging all these months because the Ampatuans have objected to it. According to Ces Drilon of ABS-CBN News who filed this report:
The lawyers of Andal Ampatuan Sr. have vehemently opposed the prosecution panel’s first witness against the Ampatuan patriarch on grounds he should also have been included as an accused.
The court deferred the testimony of Kenny Dalagdag until a motion filed against him is resolved.
The defense pointed out that Dalagdag executed an affidavit in December 2006 admitting involvement in the Maguindanao massacre.
Dalandag is allegedly a member of the Ampatuans’ private army.
Atty. Sigfrid Fortun, counsel for Andal Sr. and son Andal Jr., reiterated his opposition to Dalandag’s testimony because his conversion into state witness was in violation of Rule 119, Section 17 of the Rules of Court.
What is it about Dalandag’s impending testimony that the Ampatuans want to block?
Read for yourself portions of Dalandag’s affidavit which he executed on December 7, 2009 – two weeks after the November 23, 2009 massacre in the town of Ampatuan, Maguindanao, which resulted in the death of 58 unarmed people.
The affidavit was made available to me early last year not by the lawyers of the victims nor the lawyers of the accused. I obtained it from a more neutral source.
I had earlier uploaded Dalandag’s affidavit on my website after Justice Agra had thrown out the affidavit. However, my story on this got nuked by a hacker early this year. I am therefore restoring those portions of Dalandag’s affidavit that are relevant to this particular story on Zaldy Ampatuan, who has not yet been arraigned in court to this day.
Portions of Kenny Dalandag’s affidavit
Another curious thing about Zaldy’s offer to testify
Here’s one other reason why I’m wary about Zaldy’s offer – the Fortun brothers who are lawyering for Andal Sr. and Andal Jr. have not condemned Zaldy Ampatuan as a “Judas” of the Ampatuan clan.
This despite Zaldy Ampatuan telling Anthony Taberna of ABS-CBN News the following statement on camera:
Willing po ako magtestify kahit sino mang involved, magulang ko man o kapatid, kahit sino mang involved, para sa ikalulutas ng problemang ito, at pawang katotohanan lamang ang aking sasabihin.
[I’m willing to testify against whoever is involved, even if a parent or sibling, whoever is involved, in order to resolve this problem, and I will tell nothing but the truth.]
How did the Fortun brothers react to this staggering offer of Zaldy Ampatuan to betray his own father and brother?
Nothing. And then three days later came this tepid reaction from Atty. Sigfrid Fortun, according to the Philippine Daily Inquirer:
Sigfrid Fortun, the counsel of the two [Andal Sr. and Jr] said he did not believe that Zaldy’s testimony would affect his clients’ case.
He said that Justice Secretary Leila de Lima should not have dismissed outright the possibility that Zaldy could become a state witness:
“She should not have said that … The prosecution has taken in as witnesses even those who admitted that they fired their guns (at the massacre site),” Fortun said.
“What’s the difference between them and (Zaldy)? That he’s an Ampatuan?” he added.
The impression I get is that Sigfrid Fortun WANTS the government to turn Zaldy Ampatuan into a state witness.
Beware of the wily Fortun brothers
The Fortun brothers have cultivated for themselves a lucrative practice in criminal law by defending high-profile clients accused of capital crimes.
I fondly recall the day when the Fortun brothers outdid themselves during the impeachment trial of then President Joseph Estrada. They demanded that a witness – in this case a bank teller – should identify in court a certain “Delia Rajas” whom the bank teller said had withdrawn P40 million in cash that was part of the stolen tobacco tax.
It turned out that the “Delia Rajas” referred to by the bank teller was never inside the impeachment trial court room in the first place.
Three of the senator-judges threatened to cite Sigfrid Fortun for contempt then and there for playing that trick. Here’s a portion of what took place during the impeachment trial, according to Pilipino Star Ngayon:
Isang testigo ng prosecution na si Ma. Caridad Rodenas, kahera ng Land Bank of the Philippines, ang umikot nang 15 minuto sa gallery ng Senado para kilalanin si Rajas na nagbukas ng account at nag-withdraw ng halagang P40 milyon sa Shaw Boulevard branch ng LBP pero hindi niya ito nakita bagaman naunang tiniyak ng abogado ng Pangulo na si Atty. Sigfrid Fortun na naroon nang mga oras na iyon si Rajas.
Ang nabanggit na pera ay bahagi umano ng excise tax sa tabako na inilagak nina Ilocos Sur Governor Luis Singson at kaibigan ni Estrada na si Charlie “Atong” Ang sa banko para sa Pangulo.
Kailangan pang paupuin ng mga senador-hukom ang mga nanonood sa gallery at ipasara ang mga pintuan sa session hall habang umiikot si Rodenas dito para hanapin si Rajas.
Pero sinabi ni Rodenas sa korte kinalaunan na wala si Rajas sa gallery bagaman nauna niyang tiniyak kay Fortun na makikilala niya si Rajas batay sa una nilang pagkikita.Nagkaroon ng mga pagtatalo nang lituhin ni Fortun ang mga senador-hukom sa kanyang mga tanong kay Rodenas. Sinabi ni Fortun na nais lang niyang mapatunayan na kilala ni Rodenas si Rajas.
Sinabi nina Senators Loren Legarda, Rodolfo Biazon at Raul Roco na dapat i-cite for contempt si Fortun dahil sa misrepresentation nang sabihin nito na nasa gallery ang Rajas na nasa litratong iprinisinta ng prosecution. Malinaw umanong niloloko at nililito ng defense panel ang impeachment court.
Because of all these, I would be very wary of Zaldy Ampatuan’s offer, Mr. President.
Zaldy Ampatuan could turn out to be an even better version of the Fortun brothers’ Delia Rajas court trick.
Links to cited sources:
Philippine Daily Inquirer: Ampatuan: Brod’s innocent; We’ll fight suspension
Philippine Star: Justice Scretary Agra drops Zaldy Ampatuan from charge sheet
Philippine Daily Inquirer: Ignore Zaldy, Mangudadatu urges Aquino
Pilipino Star Ngayon: Trial ginulo ng 2 Delia Rajas