Court takes ‘judicial notice’ of martial law declaration after Maguindanao massacre
MANILA, Philippines – Defense lawyers in the Maguindanao massacre trial blocked the testimony of a Malacañang official who was supposed to testify on the declaration of martial law in Maguindanao shortly after the Nov. 23, 2009 carnage there.
Judge Jocelyn Solis-Reyes of the Quezon City regional trial court’s Branch 221 decided to dispense with the testimony of Marianito Dimaandal but took “judicial notice” of the documents he had.
“So we will not waste time, the court will take judicial notice of the documents once the prosecution submits authenticated and certified copies. No need to present the witness,” she said in court Thursday.
Dimaandal was the records chief of Malacañang who brought along with him copies of proclamations and orders issued by former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo in the wake of the massacre, which has been blamed on members of the powerful Ampatuan clan closely allied with her.
These documents were: Proclamation 1946 on the declaration of the state of emergency; Proclamation 1959 on the declaration of martial law and the suspension of the writ of habeas corpus; Administrative Order 275 creating a commission to probe into private armies and other administrative and executive orders amending it; Executive Order 546 directing the Philippine National Police to support the Armed Forces of the Philippines in enforcing internal security.
Dimaandal was supposed to certify the orders on the witness stand on Thursday.
At least 57 people, including lawyers and mostly female members of the Mangudadatu clan, and over 30 journalists and media workers, were killed in the massacre.
The defense objected to having Dimaandal testify, questioning its relevance.
Private prosecutor Nena Santos pointed out that some of the evidence seized in operations during the declaration of martial law were evidence in the multiple murder case.
The court ruled, however, that it would dispense with Dimaandal’s testimony and identification of the documents but required the prosecution to submit authenticated and certified copies of the orders “so that the defense cannot later on raise the issue that the documents were not identified and certified.”
Prosecutor Aristotle Reyes then formally manifested that they would be dispensing with Dimaandal’s testimony and enumerated the documents for the court to take note of.
Another defense lawyer, Andres Manuel, said he hoped that this would not “open the floodgates to presenting evidence” on events which happened during the declaration of martial law in Maguindanao.
“Let’s cross the bridge when we get there,” Reyes said in reply.
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