State witness denies Andal’s claim that he plans to retract testimony

A state witness has doused cold water on Andal Ampatuan, Jr.’s attempt to reopen the Maguindanao Massacre trial, denying the claim that he would retract his testimony.

In a hearing before the Quezon City Regional Trial Court (RTC) Branch 221, Sukarno Badal said: “Walang katotohanan ‘yan… Gawa-gawa lang lahat ‘yan ni Unsay.”

Prosecutor Arthur Velasco asked Judge Jocelyn Solis-Reyes to deny Ampatuan’s motion to reopen the trial and postpone the promulgation of the verdict, since he would have no evidence.

To recall, Ampatuan’s lawyer Paul Laguatan submitted the motion instead of the defense memorandum summarizing their position on the multiple murder case.

Ampatuan claimed Badal, the former vice-mayor of Sultan sa Barongis town, contacted him on October 4 through a representative and said the evidence presented by the prosecutors were not true.

Laguatan did not submit any sworn statement by Badal to support the claim.

In his testimony, Badal said he overheard Andal Jr. talking over the radio with his father, former Maguindanao Governor Andal Ampatuan, Sr.

Andal, Jr., supposedly told his father that only the members of the media were left alive after the November 23, 2009 massacre began. Andal, Sr., then responded: “Pa-media-media ka pa, ubusin mo na ‘yan.”

Badal said Andal, Sr., may have misunderstood “media” as the Spanish word for “half,” meaning not all the intended targets were dead.

Andal, Sr., later supposedly called his son to clarify what he meant by “media,” and only then did Andal, Jr. say: “Media, mass media.”

Badal said he heard Andal, Sr., mutter that all of them would be jailed now that media practitioners were killed.

The massacre was an attempt to prevent political rival Esmael Mangudadatu from filing his certificate of candidacy for Maguindanao governor. 58 persons, including 32 media workers, were killed in one of the worst election-related incidents and press killings in history.

Andal, Sr., died in July 2015 after a brief bout with liver cancer. This helped him avoid the possibility of conviction.

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