Key suspect in Maguindanao massacre now state witness

Posted at 02/14/2013 3:01 PM

MANILA, Philippines -- One of the key suspects in the 2009 Maguindanao massacre has been admitted as state witness, prosecution lawyer Nena Santos said.

Santos said accused-turned-state witness former Sultan sa Barongis town Vice Mayor Zukarno Badal has vital information on the massacre that left 58 people dead.

Badal, who surrendered to authorities in 2010, testified in court for about two hours Thursday, detailing the alleged conspiracy between the Ampatuan clan and their allies to kill then Vice Governor Toto Mangudadatu.

Badal said he attended several meetings at the Ampatuan house in Maguindanao to plan how to prevent Mangudadatu from filing his candidacy for governor.

He said there was a Manila option, a Cotabato option and a Maguindanao option.

He said former Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) Governor Zaldy Ampatuan was assigned to lead the Manila option and was tasked to prevent Mangudadatu from filing his candidacy, which may include killing the vice-governor.

The Cotabato option was given to Ampatuan lawyer Cynthia Sayadi and provincial administrator Norie Unas while Maguindanao was to be led by Andal Ampatuan Sr. himself.

Santos noted this is a victory for the prosecution since Badal is a "vital witness on the planning, execution and cover-up" of the massacre.

ANC News Now, February 14, 2013