MANILA, Philippines—A Quezon City judge has denied the prosecution’s request that two policemen testify in opposition to the bail petition filed by 26 of the accused in the 2009 Maguindanao massacre case.
Judge Jocelyn Solis-Reyes of the Quezon City Regional Trial Court’s branch 221 junked the presentation by the prosecution panel of Insp. Rex Ariel Diongon and Police Officer 1 Reiner Ebus as witnesses to oppose the bail petition of 26 of their former colleagues who are among the 195 accused the mass murder case.
Diongon was the head of the 1508th Maguindanao Police Provincial Mobile Group who claimed to have participated in the planning of the 2009 massacre while Ebus claimed he was among the policemen and armed militia who went with former mayor Andal Ampatuan Jr of Datu Unsay to Sitio Masalay, Barangay Salman in Ampatuan town where 58 persons were massacred.
In explaining the denial of the permission sought by the state prosecutors, Reyes pointed out that while she had initially denied the motion to discharge Diongon and Ebus as accused, a petition for certiorari against the court’s resolution remains pending at the Court of Appeals.
“To grant the relief being prayed for in the motion so that prosecution can rest its case relative to the petitions for bail… without awaiting resolution thereof will only be an exercise in futility,” Reyes ruled.
She added that while the defense panel had not opposed the two policemen’s presentation to enable the prosecution to rest its case on the bail petition, their testimonies would be inadmissible as evidence.
“Unless and until the assailed orders (denial of motion to discharge) are reversed by the Court of Appeals, the same stand and Insp. Diongon and PO1 Ebus’ respective sworn statements being inadmissible as evidence, their presentation as witnesses cannot be allowed,” the judge said.
On the other hand the motion to allow sole state witness Sukarno Badal to testify in the bail petition hearings was granted as, Reyes said, he had been discharged by the court as an accused.
The court had previously granted the prosecution’s motion for the exclusion of the former Sultan sa Barongis town vice-mayor as an accused in the massacre and acknowledged his admission into the justice department’s witness protection program.
The November 23, 2009 Maguindanao massacre involved the killing of 58 persons, including 32 media workers, who had joined a convoy of the wife of then Buluan town vice mayor Esmael Mangudadatu to Shariff Aguak to file his certificate of candidacy for governor of the province.