Judge Solis-Reyes acquits all accused in 58th murder case

Marje Pelayo   •   December 20, 2019   •   1076

Judge Jocelyn Solis-Reyes

MANILA, Philippines — The Quezon City Regional Trial Court Branch 221 on Thursday (December 19) junked the 58th murder case in the decade-long trial of the Ampatuan Massacre involving the 58th victim photojournalist Reynaldo Momay.

Based on the 761-page ruling, Judge Jocelyn Solis-Reyes said that though Momay’s dentures were found, circumstance could not establish that he was there and that he was among the victims because his body was never found.

“This court concludes that the first element of murder – ‘that a person was killed’ – is absent in this case. The 58th count of murder will not prosper for it lacks corpus delicti,” the ruling stated.

“It must be borne in mind that proof of corpus delicti is indispensable in prosecutions for felonies and offenses, such as the crime of murder. Corpus delicti is the body or substance of the crime. It refers to the fact that a crime has been actually committed,” it added.

Judge Solis-Reyes thus acquitted all accused on the murder case filed for the death of Momay on the basis of reasonable doubt.

Appeals can no longer be filed for dismissed criminal charges such as Momay’s under the double jeopardy rule.

A team of forensic experts from the Commission on Human Rights (CHR) in 2012 found and verified Momay’s dentures at the crime scene.

This prompted the Department of Justice (DOJ) to file a murder case for Momay.

But Judge Solis-Reyes ruled that the absence of Momay’s body and the lack of death certificate could not made certain that Momay was among the victims.

She explained that the prosecution relied only on “mere say-so of the prosecution witnesses that the victim wore the subject denture will not amply establish its identity.”

She further noted that assuming that the dentures were indeed Momay’s, it was not enough to establish that the photojournalist died in the hands of the convicted criminals.

Fight is not yet over for kin of Ampatuan massacre victims

Aileen Cerrudo   •   November 23, 2020

MANILA, Philippines — The fight continues. After eleven years since the Ampatuan Massacre, and a year after the verdict, the victims’ kin continues to fight for justice.

Forty-three individuals were found guilty, including five members of the Ampatuan family.

Mary Grace Morales, who lost her husband and a brother, expressed her dismay, saying that there are suspects that are still at large. Morales lamented several of the accused were able to bail out.

Iyong mga convicted na mga Ampatuan ay nag-file pa ng bail sa higher court so paano po nila nasasabi na tapos na ang kaso (Several of the convicted Ampatuans filed a bail in the higher court, how can they say that the case is over)?” she said.

Atty. Nena Santos, one of the lawyers for the victims, said there are still 76 first wave suspects still at large.

She also said they already filed an appeal to increase the civil damages to be received by the victims but the Supreme Court still has no final decision on the matter.

Meanwhile, Reynafe Momay-Castillo, the daughter of Photojournalist Reynaldo Momay, still insists that her father is among the victims of the massacre. The court ruled out his father as one of the victims since his body was not found.

“I can only wish one day that 57 will be up by one since it matters more to me than before. Let us remember that the 58th victim was my father and that the victim is Reynaldo Bebot Momay,” she said.

Atty. Santos also lamented that out of the 48-second wave of suspects, 40 were dismissed and 8 had no verdict.

Nakapagtaka ito kasi lahat ng mga hindi nag-file ng counter-affidavit natanggal pa rin sa kaso (It makes one wonder that those who did not file a counter-affidavit were also dismissed),Santos said.

The lawyers and victims of the Ampatuan Massacre still believe that the case will remain unresolved as long as there is no final decision on the pending cases. —AAC (with reports from Dante Amento)

Cop linked to 2009 Ampatuan massacre surrenders to CIDG

Robie de Guzman   •   January 22, 2020

Police Officer Ysmael Baraquir

MANILA, Philippines – A police officer tagged in the 2009 Ampatuan massacre case has surrendered after more than 10 years of hiding, authorities said Wednesday.

Police Officer Ysmael Baraquir of the Maguindanao Provincial Police Office surrendered to the Criminal Investigation and Detection Group (CIDG) regional field unit 15 around 7:30 p.m. on Tuesday in Barangay Linandangan, Pagalungan in Maguindanao.

Police said they took Baraquir into custody based on an arrest warrant for 56 counts of murder signed by Quezon City Regional Trial Court (QC RTC) Branch 221 Judge Jocelyn Solis-Reyes.

Baraquir is also listed in the national level most wanted persons, according to a report to CIDG acting director Brig. Gene. Joel Napoleon Coronel.

Earlier, two massacre suspects were separately arrested by authorities in Maguindanao after the court released last December 2019 its verdict on the gruesome killing.

On December 19, QC RTC Judge Jocelyn Solis-Reyes handed down a guilty verdict to several members of the political Ampatuan clan, including former Datu Unsay Mayor Andal Ampatuan Jr., former Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao Governor Zaldy Ampatuan, Anwar Ampatuan Sr., Anwar Ampatuan Jr., and Anwar Sajid Ampatuan, for their involvement in the murder of 57 people, including members of the media.

Originally, there were 58 victims in the massacre but the 58th person, photographer Reynaldo Momay of the local paper Midland Review, was declared missing after his body was not found in the scene.

The Ampatuan massacre is considered the worst election-related violence and attack on press freedom in the Philippines.

Another Ampatuan massacre fugitive arrested

Robie de Guzman   •   January 10, 2020

Ampatuan massacre suspect, Gambayan Kasim, also known as Lori Alip

MANILA, Philippines – Another at-large suspect in the 2009 Ampatuan massacre has been finally caught after eluding arrest for over a decade, authorities said Friday.

Police Regional Office-Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (PRO-BARMM) identified the suspect as 47-year old Gambayan Kasim, also known as Lori Alip.

The PRO-BARMM added that Kasim, an alleged member of a private armed group, was arrested after he was served a warrant of arrest on Thursday, January 9 at Barangay Timbangan in Shariff Aguak town in Maguindanao.

Authorities recovered a hand grenade from Kasim’s possession.

During the operation, Kasim’s alleged cohort, identified as Edsrail Guiomla alias Nas Guiomla, fired shots at the operatives.

Police retaliated and injured Guiomla. He was rushed to a hospital but was declared dead upon arrival.

Recovered form Guiomla was a caliber .45 gun and 13 sachets of suspected shabu (crystal meth).

Police said Kasim and the collected pieces of evidence were turned over to proper authorities for documentation and disposition.

Last January 6, police also nabbed Faisal Dimaukom alias Kagi Faizal, who is one of the suspects in the massacre.

Dimaukom was arrested during an operation in Datu Saudi Ampatuan.

Kasim and Dimaukom are among the 80 out of nearly 200 suspects in the massacre who were at large when the Quezon City Regional Trial Court (QC RTC) Branch 221 released last month its verdict on the gruesome killing.

On December 19, QC RTC Judge Jocelyn Solis-Reyes handed down a guilty verdict to some members of the political Ampatuan clan, including former Datu Unsay Mayor Andal Ampatuan Jr., former Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao Governor Zaldy Ampatuan, Anwar Ampatuan Sr., Anwar Ampatuan Jr. and Anwar Sajid Ampatuan, for their involvement in the murder of 57 people, including members of the media.

Originally, there were 58 victims in the massacre but the 58th person, photographer Reynaldo Momay of the local paper Midland Review, was declared missing after his body was not found in the scene.

The Ampatuan massacre is considered as the worst election-related violence and attack on press freedom in the Philippines.

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