Friday, July 27, 2012

Andal son still draws gov't salary, lawyers say

MANILA, Philippines - One of former Maguindanao governor Andal Ampatuan Sr.’s sons – detained since December 2009 in connection with the Maguindanao massacre – continues to receive his salary as a provincial board member of Maguindanao. The issue of Datu Sajid Islam Ampatuan’s salary was brought up by lawyer Nena Santos during a court hearing Wednesday, and confirmed by the younger Ampatuan’s lawyer, Paris Real. Santos represents Maguindanao Gov. Esmael Mangudadatu, whose relatives were among those slain in the Nov. 23, 2009 murders of 57 people. Interior and Local Government Secretary Jesse Robredo said in a text message to The STAR yesterday that he directed Mangudadatu to “file a case against those responsible for allowing” Ampatuan to stay in his position and receive a salary. Santos, citing six payroll lists from the Maguindanao provincial board, told Judge Jocelyn Solis-Reyes of the Quezon City Regional Trial Court Branch 221, “How come Sajid Islam receives a salary? May we know if Sajid Islam is still in jail?” Santos was about to disclose the amount of money given to Ampatuan monthly but Real interrupted her, saying the issue should be discussed in court through a written motion. Based on a copy of the payroll list from the Office of the Sangguniang Panlalawigan, Ampatuan received a monthly salary from January to June 2012. He was reported to have received P48,153.46 each month from January to March; P55,792 in April; and P52, 845 each in May and June. The boxes provided for “signature of payee” for Ampatuan’s name have also been signed. Ampatuan’s name is also included in the April 2012 notice of salary adjustment, which states that the income of provincial board members will be raised from P45,505 to P54,088. In a separate phone interview, Real confirmed that his client won in the 2010 elections, but refused to comment on his client’s salary, saying they have not yet discussed it. Real also stressed that Ampatuan is “a duly elected provincial board member” although he does not know who administered his client’s oath taking. He added that while “physical assumption of office is impossible,” his client cannot be disqualified. “He is not convicted yet. You cannot disqualify him just because he is detained. That is not a ground for disqualification,” he told The STAR. - By Aie Balagtas See and Cecille Suerte Felipe