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MANILA, Philippines - Eight accused in the 2009 Maguindanao massacre have asked a Quezon City court to allow them to register as voters in the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao for the 2013 elections.
Lawyer Paris Real pointed out that his clients should be allowed to exercise their constitutional rights as voters in the next year's polls since they have not been convicted of any crime yet.
Anwar Ipi Ampatuan Jr., Akmad "Tato’" Ampatuan Sr., Nasser Esmael,
Sajid Ampatuan, Anwar Ampatuan Sr., Nicomedes Tolentino, Bulatukan Omar Kayansang and Datutulon Malaguial Esmail have filed a three-page motion before Quezon City Regional Trial Court Branch 221 Judge Jocelyn Solis-Reyes to direct the Commission on Elections to let them register as ARMM voters from July 9 to 19.
Real said he sent a letter to Comelec chairman Sixto Brillantes on June 27 to request that his clients be allowed to register in their detention cells at Camp Bagong Diwa in Taguig City or in any place suitable.
Atty. Judy Lorenzo, chief of the Comelec's precinct division advised the defense lawyer on July 7 to secure a court order for the accused to be allowed to sign up as voters.
The eight accused are among the 195 charged with the deaths of 57 people in the November 23, 2009 massacre in Ampatuan town, Maguindanao---including over 30 media workers, making it the single biggest attack on journalists and sparking condemnation from press organizations around the world.