MANILA – The Department of Justice (DOJ) on Wednesday ordered the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) to conduct an independent investigation into the ambush Wednesday of a state witness in the Maguindanao massacre case in South Cotabato.
“I will definitely ask the NBI to investigate this. Sangki is a vital witness in the continuing trial of the Maguindanao Massacre case. It is not far-fetched that his ambush today (Wednesday) had something to do with the horrible case,” Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra told reporters, adding that the NBI investigation will be undertaken alongside the police investigation.
Sangki was among those who were acquitted in the case and is presently under the DOJ’s Witness Protection Program.
He and two companions, driver Richard Escovilla and WPP security officer Rey Fritch Pontanoza, were waylaid by unidentified gunmen while traveling along Tantangan, South Cotabato on the way to the airport from Tacurong City, Sultan Kudarat. Sangki and Pontanoza survived the attack and are now in the hospital.
Escovilla was declared dead on arrival.
In December 2019, Quezon City Regional Trial Court Branch 221 Judge Jocelyn Solis-Reyes found eight members of the Ampatuan clan guilty for 57 counts of murder, including that of 32 journalists, and meted them with the penalty of reclusion perpetua (up to 40 years imprisonment) without parole.
Aside from former Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao Governor Zaldy Ampatuan, likewise found guilty as principal and sentenced to reclusion perpetua without parole were his brothers Datu Andal “Unsay” Ampatuan Jr., Datu Anwar Sajid “Datu Ulo” Ampatuan, Datu Anwar “Datu Ipi” Ampatuan Jr., Insp. Saudi Mokamad, PO1 Jonathan Engid, Abedin Alamada, Talembo “Tammy” Masukat, Theng P. Sali, Manny Ampatuan, Nasser Esmael, C/Insp. Sukarno Dicay, Supt. Abusama Mundas Maguid, and Supt. Bahnarin Kamaong.
Also found guilty were Datu Anwar Ampatuan Sr., Tato Tampogao, Mohades Ampatuan, Mohamad T. Datumanong, Misuari Ampatuan, Taya Bangkulat, Salik Bangkulat, Thong Guiamano, Sonny K. Pindi, Armando Ambalgan, Kudza Masukat Uguia, Edres Kasan, Zacaria P. Akil, and Samaon Andatuan.
The Maguindanao massacre, which is considered as the worst attack against media members in recent history, took place on Nov. 23, 2009 in Sitio Masalay, Buluan town in Maguindanao. (PNA)