Massacre meant to frame Ampatuans, lawyer claims

First published in The Philippine Star, 1 October 2014

The new lawyer of Maguindanao massacre suspect Andal Ampatuan Jr. believes that members of the Ampatuan clan were “framed” by their political enemies in a bid to seize power.

“Why would the Ampatuans waylay and massacre the wife of a political rival and followers plus media practitioners in the enemy’s lair? That’s against common sense and logic,” lawyer Salvador Panelo said in a text message.

Panelo, who visited the massacre site yesterday, said the incident happened in the town of Datu Unsay, which he said is controlled by a rival clan – the Sangkis.

“They should have done it in the succeeding towns of Datu Shariff Aguak, Datu Hofer and Datu Amerah which they controlled,” he said. “I’m more convinced that the Ampatuans have been framed to seize political power.”

Not the first time

The lawyer’s statement is not the first time that the accused put the blame on the Sangkis.

In October 2013, three other Ampatuans claimed that their inclusion in the list of the accused in the Maguindanao massacre was a political move by their opponents to “neutralize” the clan.

In the separate comments filed before the Quezon City court handling the case, suspects Anwar Ampatuan, Sajid Islam Ampatuan and Akmad “Tato” Ampatuan said their political opponents – particularly the Sangkis – conspired to link the entire Ampatuan clan to the Nov. 23, 2009 incident.

Anwar and Sajid Islam are brothers of Andal Jr., while Akmad is his brother-in-law.

The comments were filed in opposition to the prosecution panel’s earlier formal offer of evidence on their bail petition.

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