A Quezon City Regional Trial Court judge has ordered the release of one of the accused in the 2009 Maguindanao massacre after posting P11.6 million bail.
Sajid Islam Ampatuan, son of former Maguindanao Gov. Andal Ampatuan Sr. and brother of the principal accused, Andal Jr., posted P200,000 for each of the 58 counts of murder.
Judge Jocelyn Solis-Reyes issued the release order yesterday after finding the bond in order.
“The same is hereby approved and he is allowed to be on temporary liberty upon the same bonds,” the court order said.
Solis-Reyes, the presiding judge of Branch 221, granted the petition for bail after “the prosecution panel failed to establish strong evidence that would warrant the continued detention of Sajid Islam while the trial is ongoing.”
Lawyer Gregorio Marquez posted the surety bond in Sajid’s behalf.
The court however, issued a hold-departure order against Sajid to prevent him from leaving the country while the case is undergoing trial.
In her five-page order, Solis-Reyes denied the motion for reconsideration filed by the prosecution panel on the earlier ruling that allowed Sajid Islam to post bail.
“For the court, the mere presence of the accused during the meetings, albeit the argument that he occupied a government position, does not… translate to a conclusion of a strong evidence of guilt,” said the judge.
The judge said the earlier findings of the court that the accused was only present at meetings and did not make any utterances remain undisturbed despite conflicting claims on the position of the accused at the time of the massacre.
Around 60 people, including members of the Ampatuan clan, who were impleaded in the case have asked the court to allow them to post bail.
A total of 42 other accused – most of whom are police officers and members of civilian volunteer organizations – have been allowed to post bail. None of them, however, was able to produce the P11.6 million set by the court.
Meanwhile, 14 suspects—including Anwar Ampatuan Sr. and Akmad “Tato” Ampatuan—were denied bail.
The bail petition of Andal Sr., Andal Jr., and Zaldy Ampatuan are still pending before the court.