There are only three major issues left to be resolved before the Maguindanao massacre case can be considered closed, according to the Public Information Office (PIO) of the Supreme Court (SC).
On November 23, 2009, 57 people, including at least 38 journalists, were killed in what has been regarded as the world’s worst crime that visited members of the media.
The case, which involves murder charges against 103 individuals, is being tried at the Quezon City Regional Trial Court (RTC) Branch 221 before Judge Jocelyn Reyes.
The three major issues are: resolution of the remaining formal offers of evidence (FOE) of the evidence-in-chief; demurrers to evidence; and termination of presentation of evidence by the defense.
“As soon as the accused have rested their presentation of evidence, their respective cases may already be submitted for the decision of the court,” the Supreme Cour stated.
As of November 21, 2017, the RTC had heard a total of 273 witnesses: 166 prosecution witnesses and 107 defense witnesses.
It has resolved all the 15 sets of FOE in connection with bail applications of 70 of the accused.
The lower court has also resolved all bail applications of the accused, including that of accused Andal “Unsay” Ampatuan, Jr., which was denied on May 31, 2017.
A motion for reconsideration filed by the accused was denied by the court in its order dated June 16, 2017.
The prosecution has finished presentation of evidence in the main cases against all of the accused, save for Datu Andal Ampatuan Jr.
Because bail proceedings against him had been terminated, the RTC is awaiting a manifestation to be filed by the prosecution on their Formal Offer of Evidence where accused Datu Andal Ampatuan Jr. is concerned.
Eight batches of FOE have been filed in court.
Seven of them have been resolved: June 15, 2016 (1st FOE), November 14, 2016 (2nd FOE), December 12, 2016 (3rd FOE), February 9, 2017 (4th FOE) and September 18, 2017 (5th, 6th, and 7th FOE).
It is already the turn of the accused to present their evidence-in-chief.
Thirty-one of them have concluded presentation of their evidence.
Thirty-four more accused are presenting their respective evidence-in-chief.
Under guidelines issued by the Supreme Court, specifically applying to these cases only, the RTC may render judgment separately and not wait for all the accused to conclude presenting their evidence.