QC judge admits most of evidence vs Ampatuan Jr.
MANILA, Philippines—A Quezon City judge has admitted almost all the evidence submitted by the prosecution panel to oppose the bail petition of the primary accused in the 2009 Maguindanao massacre, former Datu Unsay Mayor Andal Ampatuan Jr., and junked the testimonies of three other accused whose bids to turn state witness were rejected.
Judge Jocelyn Solis-Reyes rejected eight pieces of evidence from the nearly 200 exhibits offered by state prosecutors who asked the court to deny the request for bail of Ampatuan Jr. who has been charged with 57 counts of murder.
Among the prosecution exhibits that Reyes admitted into evidence were the testimonies of Maguindanao Gov. Esmael Mangdadatu, former Ampatuan town Vice Mayor Rasul Sangki, Norodin Mauyag and Akmad Abubakar Ismael.
Sangki had identified Ampatuan Jr. as the mastermind of the Nov. 23, 2009 massacre at Sitio (settlement) Masalay, Barangay (village) Salman, Ampatuan town. He testified that he heard Andal Ampatuan Jr., the former Maguidanao governor, give the order via two-way radio to his son and namesake to attack the 58 victims.
Farmers Mauyag and Ismael were eyewitnesses. Mauyag claimed that he saw Ampatuan Jr. flag down the convoy of Mangudadatu, at the time the mayor of Buluan town, at Sitio Malating, Barangay Salman, while Ismael testified that he witnessed the slaughter.
Also admitted into evidence were the testimonies of National Bureau of Investigation deputy director Ric Diaz; Sultan Kudarat provincial planning and development office videographer Jerry Atanoso; NBI medico-legal officer Dr. Ricardo Rodaje; and representatives of Smart and Globe Telecommunications who confirmed the date and time of calls made by one of the victims, Mangudadatu’s wife Genalin, to her husband.
Reyes set aside the testimonies of accused Mohammad Sangki, a former council member of Datu Abdullah Sangki town, as well as those of ex-policemen Rainer Ebus and Rex Ariel Diongon, pointing out that the court had previously denied their offer to turn state witness.
Sangki had testified to witnessing the Mangudadatu convoy being flagged down at a checkpoint and the killing of the 58 victims, while Diongon claimed that he was forced to sign a sworn statement stating that the checkpoint had been established because of a bomb threat. Ebus testified that he saw Ampatuan Jr. and his men slaughtering the victims.
The judge also did not admit into evidence several sworn statements executed by Diongon and Ebus in 2009 and 2012 and rejected photographs of an armored personnel carrier claimed to have been used in the slaughter.
Reyes clarified that her order only covered the state prosecutors’ September 2012 formal offer of evidence opposing Andal Jr.’s bail petition for 57 counts of murder.
Offer of evidence
The judge said the court has yet to rule on the prosecution panel’s formal offer of evidence for the killing of the 58th victim, Midland Review photojournalist Reynaldo Momay.
She said that the offer of evidence for the 58th victim will be issued once the defense panel terminates its own presentation of evidence to refute the prosecution’s exhibits.
The 58 victims, including 32 media people and Mangudadatu clan members, were part of a convoy of cars on their way to Sharif Aguak town to file Mangudadatu’s certificate of candidacy to run for governor against Ampatuan Sr. when they were stopped by armed men in Ampatuan and brought to a hilly portion of the town where they were all killed.
Some 200 people, including Ampatuan clan members, were charged for the massacre but only a little more than half have been arrested and arraigned.
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