DOJ: Maguindanao massacre verdict out by November

Marje Pelayo   •   August 9, 2019   •   563

FILE PHOTO: Journalism students of Bulacan State University light candles in commemoration of the 4th anniversary of the Maguindanao Massacre in front of Bulacan Capitol, Malolos City, Bulacan. Photo taken November 21, 2013. | PVI/Junnel Aquino

MANILA, Philippines – The Department of Justice (DOJ) expects judgement to be rendered on the accused in the killing of 58 individuals in the gruesome massacre that happened in Maguindanao in November 2009.

According to Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra, the 10-year trial on the case was finally completed on July 17, 2019.

“The parties were given until 15 August 2019 to submit simultaneously their respective memorandum or written summation,” Guevarra said in a statement.

“After which the case shall be considered as submitted for decision, with or without the memoranda of the parties,” he added.

The DOJ then expects that a judgment will be rendered before the massacre’s 10th anniversary November 23, 2019.

“And that justice will finally be served,” the Justice Secretary said.

The judgement in November is expected to end the long wait for justice for the families of the victims of the gruesome crime.

Fifty people were killed in Sitio Masalay, Barangay Salman, Ampatuan, Maguindanao, including 32 journalists, four of them from UNTV. 

Some brutally shot, others buried alive in pits, while several bodies were left lying nearby in the massacre known as the single deadliest event for journalists in history. – MNP (with details from Mai Bermudez)

CJ Peralta hopes verdict on Maguindanao massacre will be issued before year-end

Maris Federez   •   November 8, 2019

FILE PHOTO: Journalism students of Bulacan State University light candles in commemoration of the 4th anniversary of the Maguindanao Massacre in front of Bulacan Capitol, Malolos City, Bulacan. Photo taken November 21, 2013. | PVI/Junnel Aquino

The Supreme Court (SC) has allowed Quezon City Regional Trial Court Judge Jocelyn Solis-Reyes a 30-day extension in issuing her verdict on the Maguindanao Massacre case.

The case has already been submitted for resolution on August 22 and the court was supposed to come up with a verdict within 90 days or until the third week of November but Judge Reyes requested an extension.

CJ Peralta said they understand Reyes’ predicament due to the voluminous records and evidence that she had to consider which prompted the Supreme Court to approve her request for a one-month extension.

“We also allow meritorious motion for extension and we understand her predicament,” said Peralta.

The chief magistrate, however, expressed hope that Judge Reyes will no longer ask for another extension in issuing her verdict on the case.

“I hope that she will no longer ask for another extension so that before the end of the year those cases will finally be decided,” he said.

According to the memorandum that the SC sent to Reyes, she has until December 30 to arrive at a decision and it is already non-extendible.

On November 23, 2009, armed men ambushed 58 individuals, including 32 members of the media, in the town of Ampatuan, Maguindanao.

Among the slain was the wife of former Buluan Vice Mayor Esmael “Toto” Mangudadatu who was supposed to file his certificate of candidacy for Maguindanao gubernatorial election, opposing the Ampatuan clan.

The Maguindanao Massacre is considered the world’s worst election-related incident of violence and the deadliest attack against the members of the media. (from the report of Nel Maribojoc) /mbmf

Maguindanao massacre victims’ lawyer expects a guilty verdict

Aileen Cerrudo   •   November 6, 2019

Atty. Nena Santos

The legal counsel of the Maguindanao massacre victims expects that the decision of the Quezon City Regional Trial Court (RTC) Branch 221 which will be released not later than December 22, will give out a guilty verdict.

Atty. Nena Santos said even if some of the witnesses recanted their statements, it will not affect the verdict of the court.

“Ang nag-recant na mga witnesses (The witnesses who recanted [their statements] are just collaborating witnesses. The main witnesses did not recant so we believe that it will not affect the outcome of the case,” she said.

Over a hundred accused in the Maguindanao massacre, which include several members of the Ampatuan family, are waiting for the court’s decision before the end of the year.

The Quezon City RTC was given 90 days in order to come up with a verdict for a case already submitted for resolution. The 90-day period will lapse on November 22.

However, Judge Jocelyn Solis Reyes requested a 30-day extension. —AAC (with reports from Mai Bermudez)

Trillanes, Sabio want kidnapping raps dismissed

Aileen Cerrudo   •   October 22, 2019

(L-R) Former Senator Antonio Trillanes IV and Atty. Jude Sabio

Former Senator Antonio Trillanes IV and Atty. Jude Sabio have submitted their counter-affidavits for the kidnapping and serious illegal detention charges filed against them.

Based on Trillanes’ counter-affidavit, submitted on Tuesday (October 22), the senator belied the accusations of businesswoman Guillermina Barrido.

Trillanes said Barrido reportedly admitted she was lying based on her statement in April 2017.

“Lumalabas doon na talagang hindi siya kinidnap at unang-una, mayroon siyang cellphone (It showed that she wasn’t really kidnapped and first of all she had a cellphone),” he said.

According to Barrido’s accusations, Trillanes along with the other accused have allegedly kidnapped and detained her in a convent in 2016. She also alleged that she was forced to sign a “ready-made” affidavit against President Rodrigo Duterte.

Meanwhile, Sabio said he saw Barrido twice inside the convent and one time at a mall, proving that she was not forcefully detained.

“Hindi ako pwedeng mag-kidnap tsaka mag-detain ng isang tao para magtestigo laban sa Pangulong Duterte (I cannot kidnap and detain a person to testify against President Duterte),” Sabio said. “Hindi iyan ang trabaho ng isang abogadong tulad ko (That is not the job of a lawyer like me).”

Sabio will also submit the exchange of emails between him and Barrido including videos to support his statement.

Barrido became a witness when a complaint was filed in the International Criminal Court (ICC) against the President, but she reversed her statement saying she was bribed to testify against the President.—AAC (with reports from April Cenedoza)

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