• CA affirms indictment of another Ampatuan

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    THE Court of Appeals (CA) has affirmed the indictment of another Ampatuan clan member for the gruesome killing of 58 individuals, including 30 journalists, which took place in Ampatuan town in Maguindanao on November 23, 2009.

    In a 12-page decision promulgated on September 10, 2013 and penned by Associate Justice Rodil Zalameda, the CA Special First Division dismissed the petition for certiorari filed by Sajid Islam Ampatuan questioning the Department of Justice (DOJ) resolutions which found probable cause against the petitioner and other respondents for multiple murder.

    ”Wherefore, the Petition is hereby dismissed. Accordingly, the assailed DOJ Resolutions dated 17 June 2011 and 25 January 2013, affirming the finding of probable cause for the crime of multiple murder against petitioner and others, stand,” the decision said.

    Sajid Islam, son of former Maguindanao governor Andal Ampatuan Sr., was earlier arraigned for the crime on August 7, 2013.

    Together with four other accused, he entered a not guilty plea befor Quezon City Regional Trial Court Branch 221 Judge Jocelyn Solis-Reyes.

    The appellate court, in its decision, pointed out that Sajid Islam ”failed to show that the Secretary of Justice committed wanton, whimsical, unfettered and capricious exercise on judgment.”

    In his petition, Sajid Islam insisted that the DOJ committed grave abuse of discretion when it denied his petition for review and motion for reconsideration where he assailed the recommendation to have him indicted.

    The petitioner also questioned the basis of DOJ’s resolutions, which is the affidavit of prosecution’s witnesses Kenny Dalandag and Noh Sapal Akil.

    He described Dalandag’s affidavit as “bewildering and unbelievable,” and “contrary to established physical evidence,” while Akil’s affidavit allegedly contains “irrelevant matters.”

    He also mentioned the affidavits of two other prosecution witnesses namely, SPO1 Cixon Jayectin Kasan, former acting chief of police of Buluan, Maguindanao and Police InspectorAriel Diongon, which cleared him of any participation in the planning and consummation of the crimes.

    However, the CA ruled that Sajid Islam’s petition must be dismissed as it found “no tinge of arbitrariness or capriciousness on the part of the Secretary of Justice” in issuing the resolutions.

    The appellate court also agreed with the Secretary of Justice “that the defense of alibi raised by petitioner cannot prosper.”

    The CA said that though Sajid Islam may argue that he was in another place, particularly in Shariff Saydona Mustafa, on the day the crime happened, he failed to prove that it was physically impossible for him to be in Barangay Matagabon or Barangay Salman where the convoy of the victims was flagged down.

    ”It cannot be denied, too, that the defense of alibi is a matter of evidence that is best ventilate in a full-blown trial and not during preliminary investigation where the inquiry is limited to whether or not there is probable cause to believe that a crime is committed and that the respondent is probably guilty thereof,” the decision stated.

    Concurring with the decision were Associate Justices Francisco Acosta and Pedro Corales.

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