Maguindanao massacre victims’ families question ruling
MANILA, Philippines — Lawyer Nena Santos, private prosecutor for 38 of the 58 victims of the Maguindanao massacre, on Saturday said they will ask the Quezon City Regional Trial Court Branch 221 regarding some discrepancies in the verdict.
“A motion for clarificatory judgment will be filed next week,” Santos said, after the 761-page decision of Judge Jocelyn Solis-Reyes listed the name of Supt. Bahnarin Kamaong in both the list of 28 convicted and the list of 56 acquitted.
Witnesses identified Kamaong as among the supporters of the Ampatuan family who were present in the meeting at the mansion of convicted Zaldy Ampatuan on Nov. 17, 2009, and was tagged as one of the bodyguards of Datu Zaldy.
After the decision was read on Thursday, Kamaong’s lawyer, Jumaan Paa, manifested that his client’s name was mentioned twice ¬— during the reading of the names of those who were convicted and during the time when the acquitted personalities were being named.
Different from substance
“Based on the body of the decision, he was convicted,” Santos said. “If there is a variance, the body of the decision prevails over the dispositive portion.”
In a meeting held a day before the massacre at the mansion of Andal Ampatuan Sr., Kamaong was the one who instructed police officers to bring out the firearms from the vehicles of the clan patriarch.
He was also heard to have said during one of the discussions for the murder plot: “Pagdating ng oras na yan, kami na ang bahala, pati ang mga tao ko (When the time comes, we’ll take care of it, including my people).”
“While Kamaong did not actually participate in the shooting of herein victims neither was he actually seen at the crime site on Nov. 23, 2009, it cannot be denied that he was part of the plot to kill Datu Toto,” wrote Reyes.
“His overt act in directing the police officers to bring out the firearms apparently to be used by the assailants in carrying out their plan speaks for itself. No other conclusion can be had except that he was part of the conspiratorial act. He thus, must be made to suffer the consequences thereof,” she added.
4 respondents excluded
Moreover, four suspects out of the 101 who underwent trial were not included in the dispositive portion of the decision. They were Rakim Amil and Mindanao-based cops SPO2 Badawi Bakal, SPO2 George Labayan and PO1 Abdulbayan Mundas.
The body of the decision refers to Bakal as the former police officer in charge of the municipality of Ampatuan. Witnesses said he was manning a checkpoint close to the Municipal Hall of Ampatuan on Nov. 23, 2009.
When his men were brought to the Criminal Investigation and Detection Group in Cotabato two days after the massacre, witness Takpon Dilon said Bakal told them: “Huwag kayong magsalita kung ano nakita niyo kundi ay may masamang mangyayari sa amin pati na sa pamilya namin (Don’t tell what you saw or something bad will happen to us and our families).”
Dilon stated that he saw a backhoe, but Bakal punched him and said in Filipino, “didn’t I tell you not to talk, you’re getting me involved.”
Labayan Group leaderThe witness said Bakal also aimed a gun at him and warned him that he and his family would be killed if he talked.
Labayan was the leader of the “Labayan Group” of policemen who was tasked to conduct road security at Sitio Binibiran, Barangay Matagabong, Ampatuan, Maguindanao, on Nov. 19 to 23, 2009.
He, however, is listed in the decision’s body as among those who are “totally innocent” because they had no prior knowledge of the murder plot and were not identified at the crime scene.
Mundas was assigned to the “Solano Group,” who manned a checkpoint at Sitio Masalay from Nov. 19 to 23, 2009. He told the court, however, that he was off-duty the day before the incident and was able to return to Sitio Masalay on Nov. 23, 2009 at 12 noon.
Rakim Amil was identified as one of the armed civilians who remained at the site and guarded the backhoe used to bury the victims.
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