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RIVERMAN’S VISTA: Layman’s guide to understanding the Ampatuan Massacre verdict (3): A Conspiracy to kill

3rd of a series: A conspiracy to kill

CAGAYAN DE ORO CITY (MindaNews / 25 Jan) — An accepted badge of conspiracy is when the accused, by their collective acts aimed at the same object, one performing one part and another performing another so as to complete it with the view to the attainment of the same objective, indicating closeness of personal association, concerted action and concurrence of sentiments. In conspiracy, the act of one is the act of all. 

The prosecution presented 16 direct witnesses who have either seen or heard how the Ampatuans and their cohorts planned and perpetrated the massacre. Two witnesses in particular, Lamodin Saliao and Sukarno Badal testified on how the Ampatuan family and supporters conspired to commit the crime.

Lamodin Saliao, a casual employee at the Provincial Capitol and part-time personal assistant (kasambahay) of Datu Andal Ampatuan Sr. from 1987-1995, stated in his testimony that he witnessed various meeting where the accused discussed the plans against their political opponents.

Children of the media victims in the infamous Ampatuan massacre 10 years ago continue to cry for justice as they visited the massacre site in Sitio Masalay, Barangay Salman in Ampatuan town, Maguindanao on Sunday (17 November 2019). MindaNews photo by BONG S. SARMIENTO

According to Saliao, on November 17, 2009, he, together with Andal Sr. and one Kagi Milo Luminda went to “Tweety”, a restaurant owned by Anwar then they proceeded to the farm of Datu Andal at Shariff Aguak. They were in a convoy of 11 cars. At the farm, he saw the Ampatuan family among them, Zaldy Ampatuan and Andal Jr. When they went back to the mansion, he was instructed by Andal Sr. to call Bai Ameera to prepare food for a meeting to be held at the house of Datu Zaldy. According to Saliao, Andal Sr. presided over the meeting attended by the Ampatuan family and supporters. As he was near Andal Sr. during the meeting, he overheard everything that was being discussed. The group conversed in Maguindanaon, as follows:

Datu Andal Sr.: “Kaya nga tayo nandito lahat para pagusapan kung papano pigilan natin si Toto Mangudadatu sa pagpafile ng certificate of candidacy sa Maguindnao.”

Datu Unsay: “Madali lang yan Ama. Patayin sila lahat kapag pumunta sila dito.”

Datu Zaldy: Kung yan papagusapan dapat planuhin mabuti para hinde tayo mabisto.”

Datu Andal Sr.: “Yan naman, Datu Unsay, huwag mo na ipagkatiwala ang paghaharang sa kanila o convoy ng mga Mangudadatu doon banda sa tapat sa highway na hinukayan ng backhoe.”

Datu Unsay: “Opo, Ama. Ang gagawin lang ng iba ay imonitor kami at tulungan kung kinakailangan.”

After Andal Sr. posed the question, his children stood up. Subsequently, the people laughed. The witness perceived that they were all in agreement with the plan of killing them all.

In the evening of November 22, 2009, Andal Sr. once again called a meeting attended by his children, grandchildren and supporters at his farm at Brgy. Bagong, Shariff Aguak. The witness claimed that he heard Datu Zaldy saying: “ kung yan ang final desisyon natin na patayin silang lahat ay pupunta ako Maynila para hinde tayo mahalata at magtawagan na lang tayo.”

One other witness who saw how the accused hatched the plan to kill Toto Mangudadatu and companions in order to prevent the former from filing his certificate of candidacy was Sukarno Badal. He identified himself as the Vice Mayor of Sultan Sabarongis Municipality. Moreover he was the commander of the Ampatuan family since 2005. He was also assigned by Datu Andal Sr. against the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) ang against the persons whose properties Datu Andal Sr. had claimed. He commanded not less than 300 men; and Datu Andal Sr. provided them with firepower.

Badal claimed that he attended a meeting at the Century Park Hotel. While ordering their meals at the restaurant, at the hotel lobby, Andal Sr. spoke to the group of Ampatuans and said: “Imatayan si Toto Mangudadatu, matagasan ang ulo. Patayin si Toto Mangudadatu dahil masyadong matigas ang kanyang ulo.”

At one of the function rooms of the hotel, a meeting presided by Andal was held on July 20, 2009 which was attended by the Ampatuan family, their supporters, advisers, attorneys, commanders, and political allies. Andal Sr. started the discussion saying that Toto must be killed because he cannot be prevented from running for governor. Then, several persons spoke:

Atty. Sayadi: “Sabi niya, tama ka, Kaka, pero dapat malinis ang pagkakagawa kasi kung nagkataon makulong tayo lahat.”

Datu Zaldy: “Todo suporta ako dyan, sabi niya, Ama, dapat malinis ang pagkagawa. Dahil kung hinde malinis madudungisan ang pangalan ko at makukulong tayong lahat.”

Datu Unsay: “Ama kung sino mang magtatangkang umagaw sa kapangyarihan natin ay papatayin natin silang lahat, lalong lalo na ang mga Mangudadatu na iyan.”

Jack Ampatuan: “Bapa, umpisahan ko na. Madali lang yan.”

Col. Kamaong: “Pagdating sa punto na iyan, sabi niya, Datu, ako na bahala pati na mga tauhan ko.”

Nori Unas: “ Kaka, sa tingin ko tama ito. Ang importante hinde sisingaw lahat na pinagusapan natin ditto.”

Datu Andal Sr.: “ Uway, meto tanu den. Ipatawag ko na lang kayo lahat.”

In the afternoon of July 21, 2009, the witness said he, together with Datu Andal, Datu Unsay, and many others were at the airport going to Davao. Their flight was delayed because they had to load some 200 firearms, which he earlier saw at the Century Park Hotel. These firearms included M14s, armalites, M203s, and bushmasters. (To be continued)

(MindaViews is the opinion section of MindaNews. Antonio “Tony” La Viña of Cagayan de Oro City is former Dean of the Ateneo School of Government. He teaches Constitutional law in several schools in Manila and Mindanao)


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