THE wife of slain Manila Bulletin reporter Bong Reblando on Thursday paid a visit to the detention cell of Datu Unsay Mayor Andal Ampatuan Jr. at the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI).

Ampatuan is tagged as principal accused in the November 23 massacre of 57 persons in Maguindanao.

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Myrna Reblando, who was accompanied by lawyer Harry Roque, visited Ampatuan’s detention cell following information that he was being given special treatment.

They arrived at the NBI compound at 1 p.m. But it took almost an hour before they were allowed to get near the jail as the NBI operatives securing the jail told them that they should first secure clearance from the Office of the Intelligence Services.

During their inspection, which lasted for just a few minutes, Reblando and Roque had no opportunity to get near Ampatuan since they were just told to stay at the waiting area, some 10 meters away from him.

Lawyer Ricardo Diaz, chief of the Counter Terrorism Unit (CTU) and lawyer Noel Morales, chief of Security Management Division (SMD), accompanied Reblando and Roque in going to the NBI jail waiting area.

Ampatuan was alone in a small detention which is located in the vicinity of the female inmates’ facility. But based on the physical appearance of the facility, the mayor could not help but to get mixed with female inmates when he would be going to the hallway or if he would be meeting the visitors.

Social workers visiting women inmates at the NBI jail received complaints from women detainees that they are afraid because they were mixed with Ampatuan.

Despite the heavy security, Reblando still believed that Ampatuan was afforded special treatment.

She appealed to NBI to consider also the rights of the widows and families of the slain journalists as well as those other victims of the massacre.

“I understand the stand of the NBI that it is only making sure that Ampatuan’s life should be secured so he can face the trial. But it does not mean he should be afforded with special treatment. Dapat doon siya ilagay sa ordinary jail bakit siya isasama sa mga babae inmates. The families of the victims can’t help but to feel helpless. But I have to be strong and speak-up,” she said.

Reblando said the report that Ampatuan was mixed with female inmates only deepened her pain.

“Dinadagdagan lang nila ang pain ko,” she told reporters.

But Diaz denied that the NBI is giving VIP treatment on Ampatuan, saying they only give him special treatment as far as the number of persons securing him because of presumption of threats against his life.

“But he cannot enjoy life in the prison. He has no such privileges and he is like an ordinary detainee. Nasasabi lang na special treatment kasi ang dami nagbabantay sa kanya para matiyak na buhay siya at hindi rin siya makatakas,” he said. (JCV/Sunnex)