Quezon City court orders dental age exam on massacre suspect

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Judge Jocelyn Solis-Reyes. INQUIRER.NET FILE PHOTO

MANILA, Philippines—A Quezon City court has ordered the social services development department of Taguig City to conduct a dental age examination on an accused in the 2009 Maguindanao massacre to determine his real age.

Judge Jocelyn Solis-Reyes of Regional Trial Court Branch 221 issued the directive   after the Taguig City SSDD failed to comply with its earlier order for the examination of Norman Tatak, one of the 195 accused in the grisly killing of 58 civilians, including 32 media workers, in Ampatuan town, Maguindanao on November 23, 2009.

Tatak, who was allowed by the court to post bail in February 2012, claimed he was only 16 years old at the time of the massacre, considered the worst case of election-related violence in the country’s history.

In a two-page order released Thursday, the court told Taguig’s SSDD to submit the result of Tatak’s dental age exam in five days.

The court has issued a similar order dated July 24 but the SSDD was unable to comply with it.

The court cited Republic Act 9344 or the Juvenile Justice Welfare Act, which states that a court “shall not order the detention of a child in a jail pending trial or hearing of the case.”

Under the law, the accused may be released on recognizance to his parents or other suitable person upon submission of an affidavit of undertaking and other requirements, or be released upon posting a P200,000 bail.

Meanwhile, the court deferred action on the prosecution’s appeal on the court’s order granting Tatak permission to post bail and the defense’s motion for separate trial for him, pending the results of the dental age examination.

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