Ampatuans seek Duterte's "intercession" on case of at large Maguindanao massacre suspect
The Ampatuan family has sought the help of President Rodrigo Duterte in the case of a suspect in the Maguindanao massacre who remains at large.
Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo revealed this in his regular press briefing in Malacañang when asked if he has former clients who approached him and sought his assistance.
"There is, Ampatuan...they are asking the intercession of the President," he said as he could not recall the names of the members of the Ampatuan family who went to his office following the referral of the Office President.
In an email by the Office of the President to Panelo's office, those who were seeking help were lawyer Jehan-Jehan Ampatuan-Lepail and former vice mayor Bai Soraida Biruar-Ampatuan of Parang, Maguindanao.
Jehan-Jehan is the wife of fugitive former mayor Saudi Ampatuan Jr. of Datu Saudi Ampatuan, Maguindanao while Soraida is the mother of Saudi Jr., who is the grandson of late Maguindanao Governor Andal Ampatuan Sr.
Panelo was one of the lawyers of Andal Sr., who died while in detention in July 2015.
"Unfortunately, the President will not be able to meet the proponents due to his hectic schedule and in view of the engagements that require his utmost attention, in this regard, may we respectfully refer the matter to your office for appropriate action," said an email from the OP-Appointments Office on July 17, 2019, a copy of which was released by Panelo's office.
Panelo said he met Jehan-Jehan and Soraida sometime "two weeks ago."
Upon checking the logbook at Panelo's office, the Ampatuans went to the spokesman's office on August 13.
Panelo said even prior to the email his office received and the visit by the Ampatuans to him, he saw them approaching Duterte in one occasion in Davao City.
He recalled that it was during the visit of China’s Foreign Minister Wang Yi in July 2018.
During his meeting with the Ampatuans, Panelo said, "They are asking for the possible removal of their son in the complaint."
"They sought for an advice of what to do. I said, surrender your husband," he said.
The Quezon City Regional Court is expected to render a decision against the accused in the Maguindanao massacre, considered as the worst election-related violence, within the year.
Fifty-eight people, mostly journalists, were killed in November 2009 allegedly masterminded by the members of the Ampatuan clan. Celerina Monte/DMS