September 06, 2019
Palace spokesman Salvador Panelo on Thursday revealed the Ampatuan family, another former client of his, sought President Rodrigo Duterte’s “intercession” in their case.
Panelo was the counsel of Andal Ampatuan Jr., one of the main respondents in the Maguindanao massacre where 58 people, including 34 journalists, were killed.
“I think one of the Ampatuans is at large. The mother of that Ampatuan is at large. ‘Yung mga kapatid niya (The siblings are) on trial. Pero siya at large. They’re claiming that inosente sila (they’re innocent),” Panelo told reporters during a press conference.
Panelo said the Ampatuan family wrote to the Office of the President (OP) requesting an audience with Duterte.
He recalled that he met one of the family members in an event in Davao City, and he introduced them to Duterte.
“So they’re asking [for] the intercession of the President. So in one event… pinakilala ko (I introduced them), ‘yun pala kilala na niya dati kasi mga taga Davao eh. Sabi naman ni Presidente, narinig ko sabi niya, ‘Eh antayin nalang ninyo kung ano ang judgment ng court. Nasa court na ‘yan (It turned out they knew each other because they’re from Davao. The President said, I heard what he said, ‘Just wait for the judgment of the court. It’s with the court already’),” Panelo said.
“And then I received a note referring them to me. So nagpunta sila (they went to the office) I think mga two weeks ago. So I told them, kaya ang advice ko sa inyo pasurrender mo nalang ‘yung asawa mo, magtrial nalang kayo (I advised them to have the husband surrender and face trial),” he added.
It was the OP that referred the request of the wife and mother of Saudi Ampatuan Jr.
“This refers to the request of Atty. Jehan-Jehan Ampatuan-Lepail and Bai Soraida Biruar-Ampatuan for a meeting with the President any day in July 2019,” the OP’s letter read.
“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 this matter to your office for appropriate action,” it added.
Panelo was earlier criticized for referring to the Bureau of Pardons and Parole (BPP) a letter from the family of Antonio Sanchez seeking executive clemency for the former Calauan mayor who was convicted for the rape-slay of Eileen Sarmenta and the killing of Allan Gomez.
Several lawmakers questioned Panelo’s move but the President came to his spokesman’s defense, saying he did nothing wrong.
The BPP dismissed in December 2018 Sanchez’s petition for executive clemency.
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