Zaldy Ampatuan allowed to leave jail for daughter's wedding

MANILA, Philippines (UPDATED) – Maguindanao massacre suspect and former Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) governor Zaldy Ampatuan was allowed to go out of detention to attend his daughter's wedding on Tuesday, August 21.

Bureau of Jail Management and Penology (BJMP) Spokesperson Xavier Solda told Rappler in a text message that Ampatuan was able to do this by securing a court order for him to leave detention from 4 pm to 7 pm on Tuesday.

According to the BJMP, the event was held at the Sofitel Philippine Plaza Manila in Pasay City.

"Nakabalik naman siya ng maayos sa kanyang selda before 7 pm kanina sa (He properly returned to his cell before 7 pm at the) Quezon City Jail Annex inside the Camp Bagong Diwa in Taguig City," Solda said in a text message.

The BJMP said it has no information on which court allowed Ampatuan to celebrate outside jail or who his daughter is. 

Remember Zaldy: Ampatuan is one of the suspected masterminds of the Maguindanao massacre in 2009, which left 58 people dead, most of whom were journalists.

At the time of the massacre, Ampatuan was the ARMM governor. He was expelled from the post after he was implicated in the crime and now faces 58 counts of murder.

Witness accounts pinned Ampatuan as present in meetings to plan the massacre, which was meant to prevent the candidacy filing of then-Vice Mayor Esmael Mangudadatu to challenge the gubernatorial bid of Zaldy's brother Andal Ampatuan Jr.

The slaughter is now known to be the deadliest single attack on journalists in history, and the bloodiest election-related violence in the Philippines.

Zaldy's pleas: Since 2015, Ampatuan has been asking courts to allow him to post bail so he can roam free while his cases are being heard.

His request was first denied in September 2015, when Judge Jocelyn Solis Reyes of Quezon City Regional Trial Court Branch 221 ruled that witness testimonies point to strong evidence of guilt.

Ampatuan tried his luck with the Court of Appeals (CA), but the appellate court's 8th Division just upheld Reyes' earlier ruling, junking the ex-governor's request on April 18, 2018.

Aside from the murder charges, Ampatuan is facing a possible forfeiture case after the CA in 2017 also upheld a 2015 Ombudsman decision finding him guilty of dishonesty and grave misconduct in connection to his wealth. – Rappler.com

Rambo Talabong

Rambo Talabong covers security, crime, and the city of Manila for Rappler. He was chosen as a Jaime V. Ongpin Fellow in 2019 for his reporting on President Rodrigo Duterte’s war on drugs.

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