SC rules with finality life terms for 17 Abu bandits
MANILA, Philippines—The Supreme Court has affirmed with finality the life terms handed down to 17 Abu Sayyaf bandits who seized nurse Ediborah Yap, who later died, and three other nurses of a public hospital in Lamitan, Basilan in 2001.
In dismissing their motion for reconsideration, the high tribunal said the Abu Sayyaf members failed to present new arguments that would warrant a reversal of the guilty verdict meted out to them on Aug. 13, 2004, by the Isabela City regional trial court.
“(T)he court resolves to deny the motion with finality, the basic rules raised therein having been duly considered and passed upon by the court,” the high court said in a notice signed by division clerk of court Ma. Luisa Laurea.
The magistrates also noted that “no substantial argument (was) adduced to warrant the reconsideration sought.”
On June 22, the tribunal affirmed the Nov. 24, 2008, order of the Court of Appeals enjoining the convicted terrorists to pay P200,000 in moral damages to the family of Yap and to kidnap victims Shiela Tabuñag, Reina Malonzo and Joel Guillo.
The appellate court also directed the Abu Sayyaf members to pay an additional P150,000 in civil indemnity and exemplary damages to Yap’s heirs.
“The court finds no reason to reverse or modify the ruling and penalty imposed by the (appellate court),” the high tribunal said in its ruling written by Associate Justice Diosdado Peralta.
“The court cannot find anything on record to justify deviation from said rule,” it added.
Records showed that several gun-wielding Abu Sayyaf members led by Khadaffy Janjalani and Abu Sabaya entered the town of Lamitan on June 1, 2001, and took control of the Dr. Jose Torres Memorial Hospital, where the four victims were then working as nurses.
The terrorists had with them several hostages, including American missionaries Martin and Gracia Burnham, whom they had earlier taken from Dos Palmas resort in Palawan. They also occupied nearby St. Peter’s Church.
Although government forces were able to cordon off the area, the terrorists still managed to escape, seizing the four nurses as new hostages.
Four months later, Guillo escaped from their captors while Tabuñag and Malonzo were released on separate occasions.
A year after the abduction, Yap was killed along Martin Burnham, in a crossfire during a rescue operation by the military.
Of the accused, four Abu Sayyaf members—Toting Hano Jr., Jaid Awalal, Mubin Ibbah and Annik/Rene Abbas—were convicted in absentia.
In its decision, the appellate court modified the convicts’ death sentences to life imprisonment after Congress abolished the capital punishment.
The high tribunal likewise rejected the petition of four accused—Wahid Salcedo, Magarni Hapilon Iblong, Nadzmer Mandangan and Kamar Jaafar— who asked the court to commit them to a rehabilitation center for the youth since they were minors when the crime was committed.
“(T)he evidence before the court show that accused-appellants Iblong, Mandangan, Salcedo and Jaafar were not minors at the time of the commission of the crime,” the high court said.
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