March 29, 2016
MANILA, Philippines – The Quezon City court handling the 2009 Maguindanao massacre case has junked the appeal of two grandsons of the late former Maguindanao governor Andal Ampatuan Sr. to reconsider its earlier order denying their bail petitions.
In a three-page order, Judge Jocelyn Solis-Reyes of the QC Regional Trial Court Branch 221 denied the motion for reconsideration of accused Anwar “Ipi” Ampatuan Jr. and Anwar Sajid “Ulo” Ampatuan due to lack of merit.
The two Ampatuans earlier sought for the setting aside of the January 20, 2016 court order to allow them to post bail.
In denying their bail petitions, the judge said the prosecution panel was able to present strong evidence that would warrant the continued detention of the two accused, while the trial is ongoing.
But in their motion, both accused said the evidence and witnesses presented by the prosecution for their bail petitions failed to show that they have participated in the commission of the crime.
They noted that the testimony of witness Lakmodin Saliao would not establish their participation in the planned killing of the Mangudadatus.
In his testimony, Saliao, a former househelp of the clan, said Ipi did not attend the meeting on Nov. 17, 2009, wherein the plan to stop former Buluan, Maguindanao vice mayor Esmael “Toto” Mangudadatu from filing his candidacy was allegedly hatched.
However, he testified that Ulo was present and listening to the meeting.
“Mere presence in a meeting does not prove conspiracy beyond reasonable doubt,” the defense lawyers stated in the motion.
“In this case, the prosecution, other than its bare assertions that Datu Ulo was present during said meeting, failed to establish that there was indeed a conscious criminal design existing between and among Datu Ulo and Datu Andal Sr. to commit said offense,” they added.
The two Ampatuans also questioned the testimony of Norodin Zailon Mauyag, a resident of Sitio Malating in Ampatuan town, who claimed he saw both accused in Sitio Malating on the day of the carnage with women, who were allegedly beaten up by Ipi with a long firearm.
“If he actually feared for his life, is it not that the initial reaction of a terrified person is to run away from the scene and not stay there to witness everything?” the defense lawyers noted.
But the prosecution, in their comment, said the accused cannot discredit the testimony of Mauyag based on a speculation that he should have ran away from the scene out of fear for his life.
They added that based on evidence, both accused actually participated in the commission of the crime “by firing at the witness and even held a shooting match during the alleged killing.”
In denying the motion, Reyes said the court is of the view that the arguments of the accused will not suffice to overturn the order.
“In their motion for reconsideration, the evidence presented have not been refuted by the accused with any countervailing evidence, whether documentary or testimonial,” the judge said.
“Instead, they present before this court arguments that appear irrelevant and seem to pertain to issues of credibility,” she added.
Reyes further noted that court records will show that the actions of both accused alike show a strong proof of their continuous and significant roles to the realization of these purported crimes.
The two Ampatuans were among the 197 suspects initially charged for the gruesome murder of 58 people, including 32 media practitioners, at Ampatuan town in Maguindanao province on November 23, 2009.