SC affirms indictment of Zaldy Ampatuan in massacre caseBy Tetch Torres
MANILA, Philippines—The Supreme Court upheld the Court of Appeals ruling ordering the inclusion of former Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) Governor Zaldy Ampatuan in the list of accused in the Maguindanao massacre case.
In a one page resolution dated June 25, 2012 but was released to the media Thursday, the high court said “after a review of the records, the Court resolves to deny the petition for failure to show that the Court of Appeals committed any reversible error in affirming the May 5, 2010 resolution of the Department of Justice that ordered the reinstatement of the criminal information for murder against petitioner Datu Zaldy “Puti” Ampatuan.”
The former governor went to the Supreme Court after the Court of Appeals on April 18, 2012, denied Ampatuan’s bid to be excluded from the 57 counts of murder slapped against his father Andal Ampatuan Sr, his brother Andal Ampatuan Jr. and over a hundred more accused.
The appeals court through its Special Former Eleventh Division through Associate Justice Noel Tijam said Ampatuan has enough opportunity to prove his innocence in court.
“The trial is still ongoing and petitioner is neither barred nor denied the right to foist whatever valid defense he has. For the entire duration of the trial, he has ample opportunity to confront and discredit the witnesses against him,” Tijam said.
On May 5, 2010, former Justice Secretary Alberto Agra issued a resolution reinstating Ampatuan as a primary accused in the multiple murder case.
The assailed resolution reversed Agra’s own April 16, 2010, order absolving Ampatuan of any complicity in the Nov. 23, 2009, massacre allegedly orchestrated by his then powerful clan.
The appeals court explained that to order the DoJ to conduct a reinvestigation on the case “would cause a grave injustice both to the prosecution as well as to the defense.” It added that it is not empowered to dictate upon the DoJ how a preliminary should be conducted.”