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Sandigan denies Datu Andal ‘Unsay’ Ampatuan Jr.’s bid to stop graft trial

Convicted murderer Datu Andal “Unsay” Ampatuan Jr. suffered another legal setback in two months after the Sandiganbayan denied his bid to stop his trial over graft charges in connection with the P238 million worth of fuel lubricants purchased by the Maguindanao provincial government from gas stations owned by Ampatuan Jr.

The Sandiganbayan issued the Resolution less than a month after the Quezon City Regional Trial Court convicted Ampatuan Jr. and 28 others for the killing of 58 individuals, including 32 journalists, in what has been known as the Maguindanao massacre. The victims were part of the convoy of then Buluan Vice Mayor Toto Mangudadatu, a rival of the ruling Ampatuan clan.

The Sandiganbayan Sixth Division noted that while the Ombudsman’s July 11, 2016 Resolution ordering the filing of graft charges against Ampatuan Jr. and his co-accused did not state his full name in the dispositive portion, the body of the Resolution clearly stated that “Respondents Ampatuan Jr., Dollosa, AmpatuanSr, [sic] Sajid and Bandilla [sic] were charged for violation of Section 3(g) of Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act on the basis of the spurious procurement of fuels and lubricants from Sheriff Aguak Petron Station owned by respondent Ampatuan Jr.”

The same Resolution also said that, “allegedly, the purchases of fuels and lubricants amounting to P238.318 [sic] million were not subjected to public bidding, thereby circumventing the requirements of Government Procurement Act.”

“As shown in the body of the Resolution dated July 11, 2016 in OMB-C-C-14-0124, the Office of the Ombudsman, after discussing the involvement of accused Ampatuan that he was the owner of Shariff Aguak Petron Station from which the Provincial Government of Maguindanao made the questionable purchases of fuel and lubricants, in no uncertain terms held that there is probable cause to indict therein named respondents, including accused Ampatuan, Jr., for violation of Sec 3(e) of Anti-Graft and Corrupt and Practices Act,” the Sandiganbayan said.

“Considering the voluminous records involved, the number of respondents, and the various charges against them, it is not implausible for the Office of the Ombudsman to have omitted accused Ampatuan's name from the dispositive portion of said Resolution. But there is no indication that the dispositive portion intended to dismiss the charges against him. Wherefore, accused Ampatuan's Motion is hereby denied for lack of merit,” the anti-graft court added. — DVM, GMA News