Manila— The Maguindanao Massacre’s primary suspect and the patriarch of the infamous Ampatuan Clan, Andal Ampatuan Sr., 74, passes away at 10:30 p.m. on Friday, July 17, 2015, shortly before midnight after suffering a heart attack while in coma.
It was June 5, 2015 when Andal Sr. was diagnosed with liver cancer and was confined to the National Kidney and Transplant Institute in Quezon City. From a phone-patch interview (via abs-cbn) Atty. Salvador Panelo, Datu Andal Ampatuan Sr’s legal counsel said, “The former governor is in the state of coma and he can go anytime that’s what the doctor told us.”
Andal Sr. has been confined in the hospital for two months after complaining of abdominal pains while detained under maximum security jail.
Ampatuan Sr. and his son Andal “Unsay” Ampatuan Jr. were the primary accused for the murder of 58 individuals of whom 32 were journalists. The Maguindanao Massacre was then touted as the Philippines bloody election-related violence and one of the world’s deadliest attacks against journalists.
Andal Sr. was said to be the mastermind of the Maguindanao Massacre on November 23, 2009 in order to stop the filing of Certificate of Candidacy of Ismael “Toto” Mangudadatu. Mangudadatu’s convoy with his wife and members of the media were heading to the provincial capital to join (Mangudadatu) for his CoC filing when they were gruesomely ambushed and buried using a (government-owned) backhoe.
The then acting Maguindanao governor and the chosen post’s successor, Andal Ampatuan Jr. first surrendered to the authorities to take blame for the massacre.
It was in December 5, 2009 when Andal Sr. and his son, ARMM Governor Zaldy surrendered to the police. But it was in April of 2010 when the two were moved to Manila for the trial.
It was also reported that the names of the accused were almost pulled out of the list, citing that the Ampatuans were bribing the officials.
And in March 2012, Andal Sr. and other accused were arraigned.
And in April of this year, Judge Jocelyn Solis Reyes junks the bail petition of Andal Sr. According to Solis; the evidences presented were strong as well as some of the witnesses’ testimonies telling that Andal Sr. was the one who plotted the bloody massacre as well as the meetings prior to it.
Also, while Andal Sr. was detained, accusations of special treatment were exposed (the use of courtroom for visitation purposes, infiltration of money and weapons and confinement to hospitals even with only having a common disease.)
The Status of the Case as of June 16, 2015 (via abs-cbn)
(Information Contained in the DOJ’s Memorandum to Malacaǹan Re Case Update)
Per Official Court (QC RTC)
-194 accused officially charged
-3 excluded/dropped from the cases (Esmael Canapia discharged per order dated Feb. 21, 2014)
-110 accused currently detained (one of the detained accused passed away), all of whom have been arraigned including main suspects Datus Andal Ampatuan, Sr., Andal, Jr.; Zaldy Ampatuan, Anwar Ampatuan, Sr.; Akmad “Tato” Ampatuan; Sajid Islam Ampatuan; Anwar “Ipi” Ampatuan, Jr.; and Anwar “Ulo” Ampatuan.
-84 accused still at large
-182 witnesses (including the private complainants or heirs of the fatalities and those who have been recalled) presented by the DOJ.
Rise to power
Andal Sr. started his political career as a vice mayor of Shariff Aguak in Maguindanao during the Marcos regime.
But it was in former President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo’s term that the Ampatuans gained wide influence and force in Maguindanao, hence, giving the Lakas-CMD’s senatorial ticket a 12-0 victory in the 2007 Senatorial Elections.
But after the gruesome Maguindanao Massacre, Andal Sr. and his sons, Datu Zaldy Ampatuan and Andal Jr. were immediately expelled out of Lakas-CMD.
Families of the victims’ continued cry for justice
In his statement following the news of Andal Sr.’s death on Friday, July 17, Governor Ismael “Toto” Mangudadatu said, “May Andal Ampatuan Sr. rest in peace. Regardless of his death, however, the Mangudadatu family and other families of the victims of the Ampatuan Maguindanao massacre case will continue to seek justice for the 58 persons who were gruesomely killed during the said incident,”
Reynafe Momay, the daughter of photojournalist Reynaldo “Bebot” Momay, the 58th victim, whose body has never been recovered, said in an interview (via Rappler), “Sana habang nasa death bed siya, nakahingi siya ng tawad. Dapat nag-sorry siya sa mga victims. Naaawa ako sa family niya na nawalan. Hindi ako masaya na namatay siya,” (I wish that he was able to seek forgiveness in his death bed. He should have apologized to his victims. I pity his family who lost him. I am not happy he died.)
Laid to rest
Andal Sr.’s remains were immediately brought to his mansion in Shariff Aguak in Maguindanao were many of his relatives and supporters gathered in and outside of the mansion to witness his burial.
He was finally laid to rest at around 2:30 in the afternoon of July 18, 2015, Saturday.
According to the Revised Penal Code, all cases filed against Andal Sr. were now extinguished and it is the government’s duty to sell his properties to pay for his dues once proven guilty.