By Czarina Nicole Ong-Ki
Shariff Saydona Mustaphan Mayor Datu Sajid Islam Ampatuan is asking the Sandiganbayan Third Division to move his scheduled arraignment on August 23 at 8:30 a.m. to August 30, 10 a.m.
Ampatuan filed a motion, and explained that his lawyer agreed to the August 23 arraignment without consulting with him first.
He was supposed to be arraigned on August 2, but the Supreme Court suspended work in all courts in Metro Manila that day due to inclement weather.
“That undersigned counsel…agreed to the resetting of the arraignment to August 23 without prior consultation with the accused who was then still caught in traffic,” the motion stated.
However, Ampatuan informed the court that the municipality of Shariff Saydona Mustaphan will be celebrating its 10th anniversary during the period August 22 to 30.
“Several local and national government personalities have accepted and confirmed their presence/participation in the first few days of the week-long anniversary celebration,” the motion stated.
“Thus, as head of the municipality; the accused is constrained to ask this Honorable Court that his arraignment…be reset to August 30 so that he may personally attend to the municipality’s invited guests of honor who have graciously accepted his invitation to attend and participate in the activities,” it added.
Ampatuan further explained that he requested the 10 a.m. schedule because he also has an arraignment before the Sandiganbayan First Division at 8:30 in the morning.
“That this motion is not intended to delay the proceedings but is brought about by counsel’s mistake and the afore-described circumstances,” the motion said.
Ampatuan has been slapped with a violation of Section 3(e) of R.A. 3019 or the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act and a violation of Article 217 and 171, paragraph 2, in relation to Article 28 of the Revised Penal Code, otherwise known as Malversation through Falsification of Public Documents.
On June 3, 2009, Ampatuan reportedly conspired with his co-accused and misappropriated P98,249,850 worth of public funds. The money was supposed to be used to purchase palay, corn, seeds and fertilizers from Tamoni Enterprises. However, no such purchases were made.
Ampatuan is facing the charges alongside Provincial Agriculturist Mozibicak Guiabel, Provincial Accountant John Estelito Dollosa Jr., bids and awards committee (BAC) members Kasan Macapendeg, Osmena Bandila, Engr. Norie K. Unas, Datu Ali Abpi Al Haj, and the late Engr. Landap Guinaid.
Meanwhile, Ampatuan has been slapped with four counts of violation of Section 3(e) of R.A. 3019 and another four counts for violation of Article 217 and 171, paragraph 2 in relation to Article 48 of the Revised Penal Code before the First Division.
On April 30, 2009, Ampatuan procured rice, sardines, brown sugar and dried fish from Nestor Merchandise amounting to P29,851,833. On June 30 and August 28, he procured the same food supplies from H&S Merchandise amounting to P30,341,878 and P12,875,658, respectively. Lastly, on September 30, he bought P6,681,675 worth of food supplies from Isulan & General Merchandise. But in truth, no such purchases were really made from the suppliers.