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Palace ‘dismayed’ Ampatuan allowed to attend daughter's wedding

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Malacañang said Thursday it was dismayed by the decision of a Quezon City court to allow the primary accused in the Maguindanao massacre case, Zaldy Ampatuan, to attend his daughter's wedding, which reportedly included ranking government officials among the sponsors.

Davao City Mayor Sara Duterte, Executive Secretary Salvador Medialdea, Special Assistant to the President Christopher "Bong" Go, and Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process Jesus Dureza were among those said to have been tapped as sponsors in the wedding of Bai Nor Aila Kristina Ampatuan to lawyer Mohammad Omar Somama on Tuesday.

Ampatuan, a former governor of the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao, made it to the wedding courtesy of a furlough granted by the Quezon City Regional Trial Court Branch 221, earning criticism from some quarters, including the families of victims and the National Union of Journalists of the Philippines.

"I don't think there is an implication. Officially the panel of the prosecutors, and the President joined them opposed, that motion and we're dismayed it was granted. That's the official stand," presidential spokesperson Harry Roque said at a news conference.

"I can assure you this will not affect the case and I think you know why I can give that assurance," added Roque, a former private prosecutor in the cases.

Medialdea, meanwhile, confirmed he was asked by the groom's family to be a godparent, "but I had to graciously excuse myself from attending because of prior engagement."

Dureza said he did not attend the wedding because he was in Davao City for some events.

Go, for his part, said he did not receive an invitation to the event.

58 dead

Fifty-eight people were murdered in the November 23, 2009 Maguindanao massacre, tagged as the worst case of election-related violence in Philippine history and the worst single deadly attack on journalists the world has ever seen.

The dead included family members of then-Buluan town vice mayor Esmael "Toto" Mangudadatu and 32 journalists who were accompanying Mangudadatu's wife and supporters in filing his certificate of candidacy.

Mangudadatu was then about to go against Zaldy's brother, Andal Ampatuan Jr., in the province's gubernatorial race in 2010.

Six other people who were not part of the convoy of vehicles carrying the Mangudadatus and the journalists were also killed as they happened to be in the area during the time of the attack.

The Palace said in June that President Rodrigo Duterte instructed the government prosecutors to push for partial resolution of the cases against some of the accused within the year.

The trial is now on its eighth year. — KBK/BM, GMA News

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