The conviction of several members of the notorious Rajah Solaiman Movement in connection with the Awang Airport bombing at Barangay Awang, Datu Odin Sinsuat town in Maguindanao in 2003, was re-cently affirmed by the Court of Appeals (CA).
In a 24-page ruling penned by Associate Justice Marie Christine Azcarraga-Jacob and concurred in by Associate Justices Ricardo Rosario and Ramon Paul Hernando, the CA’s Special 16th Division denied the appeal filed by Zulkifli/Julkifli, alias Donis/Doni Ofracio/Ahmad Faisal, Taufiq Rifqui, Feliciano de los Reyes alias Box, and Dinno Amor Pareja alias Khaleel, who sought to set aside the ruling rendered by the Regional Trial Court (RTC), Branch 154, Pasig City finding them guilty of the crime of murder with double attempted murder.
On February 20, 2003 at around 2:30 in the afternoon, a loud explosion rocked the airport where one person, Sgt. Nelson Corpuz, was killed while many others were injured.
Several house were burned and the airport’s terminal building was damaged.
The investigation revealed that the explosion was caused by an improvised explosive device that was placed in a white Suzuki multicab parked across the entrance gate of the airport.
The incident led to the arrest of the accused as well as their conviction.
In its April 20, 2016 ruling but was released to the media just recently, the CA held that “appellants were properly convicted of the complex crime of murder with double attempted murder and should thus be meted out a single penalty.”
However, in view of the enactment of Republic Act No. 9346, which prohibits the imposition of death penalty, the CA said, “the penalty for the crime should, therefore, be reduced to reclusion perpetua without eligibility for parole.”
The CA also ruled that the award of moral damages be modified and increased to P75,000 for the heirs of Sgt. Corpuz, Haydee Bello, and Luna Umpal.