Maguindanao massacre trial mired by bail pleas
MANILA, Philippines–Six years after the Maguindanao massacre, a Quezon City court has yet to rule on the petitions of five primary accused members of the Ampatuan clan who are seeking to post bail for 58 counts of murder.
Court records showed that out of more than 60 bail petitions filed before Regional Trial Court Branch 221, 43 accused have been allowed to post a total of P11.6 million bail, or P200,000 for each count of murder.
Fourteen other bail petitions were denied by Judge Jocelyn Solis-Reyes, who has been handling the case since December 2009.
The most recent ruling is the court’s denial of the bail bids of 11 militiamen who were among those charged for the 2009 Maguindanao massacre, which left 58 people dead.
The fatalities included 32 journalists and media workers who were out to cover the filing of the certificate of candidacy for the Maguindanao gubernatorial post of then Buluan Vice Mayor Esmael Mangudadatu.
Court records showed that the bail petitions of primary accused Andal Ampatuan Jr., his brother Zaldy, their father Andal Sr., Datu Ipi and Datu Ulo are still up for resolution.
In a 12-page resolution issued Thursday, Reyes said the prosecution was able to counter the petitions for bail of the militiamen, who were identified by prosecution witnesses as among those who manned several checkpoints along the road from Isulan going to Shariff Aguak on the day of the massacre.
The judge noted that the prosecution presented strong evidence that warranted the continued detention of the accused.
The court denied the bail petitions of Armando Ambalgan, Misuari Sinsuat Ampatuan, Mohades Ampatuan, Salik Bangkulat, Taya Bangkulat, Macton Bilungan, Mohamad Datumanong, Moactur Daud, Nasser Esmael, Sonny Pindi and Salipada Tampogao.
“These alleged civilian volunteer organization members were seen in the mountains of Sitio Masalay, at the time and place where the alleged killing occurred. Taken together, all of these alleged participations weigh heavily against the granting of the petition for bail of accused as that show strong evidence of their guilt,” the court said.
The court noted that all of the militiamen, except for Datutuhon Esmael, were positively identified by witnesses as being present at the crime scene where the Mangudadatu six-car convoy was blocked.
Esmael was allowed to post bail as the court cited the lack of witnesses testifying otherwise.
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