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Ampatuan seen as flight risk if detained in hospital

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Maguindanao Rep. Esmael Mangudadatu fears that former Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao Gov. Zaldy Ampatuan might escape if he was allowed to stay in a hospital outside the New Bilibid Prison in Muntinlupa City.

He called on Branch 221 Judge Jocelyn Reyes of the Quezon City Regional Trial Court not to allow Ampatuan to go out of the NBP to stay in a private hospital.

But he said he would not oppose Ampatuan’s plea to be transferred to the NBP infirmary for health reasons.

 ‘‘If he is as sick as he and his lawyers claim him to be, then we leave it up to the NBP doctors and experts to determine it,” Ampatuan said in a statement.

“I am not against him seeking medical assistance as long as it is done within the confines of the NBP infirmary in Muntinlupa.

“Not at the Makati Medical Center or any other high-end and private hospital, where he is allowed to stay comfortably inside a hospital suite.”

On Dec. 23 Ampatuan, through his legal counsel, filed an urgent motion seeking his transfer to the NBP infirmary.

But Mangudadatu questioned why the motion was only made public on Jan. 2.

“That alone raises suspicion. I can only hope that I am wrong for my sake and for the sake of the families who lost their loved ones in the massacre,” he said.

Ampatuan, along with his father, the late Maguindanao Gov. Andal Ampatuan Sr., brother, former Datu Unsay Mayor Andal Ampatuan Jr., and several others were convicted of murder for the deaths of 57 people, including 31 journalists, in Maguindanao on Nov. 23, 2009.

“My 10-year court battle with this family showed me how devious and calculating they are. It is not remote that escape could be an option to him. If that happens, the police could find it very difficult to rearrest him,” Mangudadatu said.

Reyes ordered the return of Ampatuan to his detention facility in Camp Bagong Diwa, Bicutan, Taguig City, a day before the Dec. 19 promulgation of the case.

Ampatuan was confined at the Makati Medical Center for 40 days.

On Nov. 23, 2009, the wife, sisters, relatives, lawyers and supporters of Mangudadatu, along with 32 journalists, were attacked, buried alive and killed by armed men in Shariff Aguak.

The Ampatuan patriach, Andal Sr., was tagged as the mastermind behind the massacre.

Out of the 32 journalists, only 31 were identified having been killed since the body of photojournalist Reynaldo Momay remained missing.

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