Gov't prosecutors file 25 counts of murder vs Ampatuan Jr., dozens other John Does

December 1, 2009 2:33 pm 

COTABATO CITY, Dec. 1 — Government prosecutors on Tuesday filed 25 counts of murder charges against Andal Ampatuan Jr., mayor of Datu Unsay, Maguindanao, and two dozen other "John Does" in connection with the November 23 Maguindanao massacre.

State prosecutors Leo Diocera, Al Calica, and Edilberto Jamora filed the multiple murder charges at 9:45 a.m. before the sala of Regional Trial Court Branch 15 acting Judge Melanio Guerrero.

RTC-15 Judge Cadar Indar was on leave, according to Sr. Supt. Willie Dangane, vice chief of Task Force 12 Alpha, and among those who escorted the prosecutors in going to the Hall of Justice situated inside the heavily guarded Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) compound here.

Prosecutor Jamora explained that only 25 counts of multiple murder were filed so far “because that is the number of information filed during the inquest in Gen. Santos City.”

"We only filed 25 because at the time of the inquest proceedings in Gen. Santos City, those were the only available medical records of the victims," Jamora told reporters after filing the charge sheet.

The prosecutors presented to the court two boxes of documentary evidence in filing the charges.

While the charges are being filed against Ampatuan at the Hall of Justice here, the military prevented the Ampatuans from leaving their homes in Shariff Aguak town.

But Lt. Col. Jonathan Ponce, regional Army spokesperson, denied that the Ampatuans were locked up inside their homes and that the Army would not allow them to move around.

Motorists coming to Ampatuan were prevented by the military along a highway few kilometers away from Ampatuan mansions.

National and local media persons were barred from proceeding to Shariff Aguak to check on reports that the Ampatuans would be arrested.

ARMM Regional Governor Zaldy Ampatuan, his father Datu Andal Sr. and other relatives and supporters are locked inside their homes in Shariff Aguak, his aide said. “We are inside the house and we are prevented from leaving,” a staff of Ampatuan who requested that he remained unidentified for lack of authority to speak, told reporters.

“The soldiers have locked the mansion's main entrance and exit gates,” he said.

"We have troops there to secure the Ampatuans and the Mangudadatus…they are not arresting officers and nobody is being arrested," Ponce explained.

Dr. Elizabeth Samama, Maguindanao health chief, has appealed to the military to allow health workers to proceed to the provincial hospital.

“To the military, please spare us health workers, we should be on the ground,” Samama said in a radio interview, adding that she was directed to be on alert for immediate and emergency situations.

“We cannot perform our duties when our health workers are prevented by soldiers,” she said.

Ponce, 6th Infantry Division spokesperson, denied commuters, media and health workers, were prevented from proceeding to Shariff Aguak.

“Naghigpit lang kami, we are politely checking all vehicles for unauthorized carrying of guns,” Ponce explained. (PNA)

FFC/NYP/EOF/jmd

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