THE SANDIGANBAYAN Sixth Division on Thursday declared former Maguindanao Mayor Datu Andal Ampatuan, Jr. — one of the convicted masterminds of the 2009 Maguindanao Massacre — guilty of 21 counts of graft and imposed on him a prison sentence of up to 210 years.

The ruling was handed down on the 14th anniversary of the massacre, with the anti-graft court sentencing Mr. Ampatuan to imprisonment of between six years and one month to 10 years for each of the 21 counts of graft over the supply of fuel to the Maguindanao provincial government from a petroleum station he owned without a bidding.

The court found him guilty of conspiring with his late father and governor, Andal Ampatuan, Sr., and other government officials over the procurement of fuel for the provincial government. The ruling also perpetually bans Mr. Ampatuan from holding public office. 

“The Shariff Aguak Petron Station charged the Provincial Government of Maguindanao for the purported deliveries of a total of 1,141,539 liters of Petro Diesel in 2008. However, it could not have delivered the said quantity of fuel products because in the same year, Petron Corporation delivered only 618,000 liters of diesel fuel to accused Ampatuan, Jr.’s Petron station. Even assuming that Shariff Aguak Petron Station still had fuel left from year 2007, it could have delivered only 649,000 liters at most,” the court said.

The court characterized the scheme as executed with “evident bad faith” leading to the “unwarranted benefits” granted to Ampatuan’s petroleum station.

Aside from Mr. Ampatuan, his co-accused Omar Camsa and Samsudin Sema were directed to pay amounts totaling P1.6 million and P9.12 million, respectively, representing the value of the undelivered fuel.

Mr. Camsa, convicted of a single count of falsification of a public document, received a sentence of 6 to 7 years imprisonment and a fine of P5,000. Mr. Sema, found guilty on three counts of the same charge, was sentenced to a cumulative 18 to 21 years in prison and fined P15,000.

Mr. Ampatuan, together with his brother Zaldy Ampatuan, were handed 40-year sentences for the massacre of over 50 people a decade ago, characterized by a global media watchdog as the single deadliest attack on journalists.

Mr. Ampatuan, incarcerated, attended the Sandiganbayan promulgation via videoconference. — Jomel R. Paguian