THE son and nephew of former gov. Andal Ampatuan Sr. of Maguindanao on Friday urged a Quezon City court to postpone their arraignment for the multiple murder charges filed against them for their alleged involvement in the 2009 Maguindanao massacre.
In a five-page motion, Atty. Paris Real, counsel of accused Sajid Islam Ampatuan and Akmad “Tato” Ampatuan asked the court to defer the arraignment of his clients pending the resolution of the separate motions filed before the Court of Appeals (CA) and the Supreme Court (SC).
Sajid Islam is the son of Andal Sr., while Akmad is the nephew and son-in-law of the clan patriarch.
Earlier, Quezon City Regional Trial Court Branch 221 Judge Jocelyn Solis-Reyes turned down their respective motions to dismiss the case against them and set their arraignment on June 26 in Camp Bagong Diwa, Taguig City.
In his latest motion, Real asked Solis-Reyes to suspend the arraignment of the two
Ampatuans until such time the CA and the SC have resolved their respective motions that questioned their inclusion in the list of accused.
“The suspension of the arraignment of the aforesaid erroneously accused is warranted considering that the questioned resolution of the DOJ [Department of Justice] Secretary finding probable cause for multiple murder against them have not yet attained finality,” read the motion.
Sajid’s petition questioning his inclusion in the list of the accused is pending before the CA while Akmad’s petition for certiorari has submitted for resolution at the SC.
In her earlier order dated June 5, Solis-Reyes said the arguments presented by Sajid Islam and Akmad in their motions for the dismissal of the case constitute the same issues that they already raised in previous appeals that have already been denied by the court.
The two previously questioned the court’s resolution allowing the prosecution to amend the information and include their names in the list of the accused.
“The court ruled on the existence of probable cause to hold the said individuals, including herein accused, liable for the [murder charges],” Solis-Reyes said.
“There is no cogent reason to discuss the same considering that it had already discussed its reasons in denying the previous motions,” she added.
Sajid Islam claimed that there was no legal or factual basis to file the case against him as there was an “implied admission on the part of the prosecution” that he was not at the crime scene at the time of the incident.
He said that, the only basis for the filing of charges against him was the alleged perjured affidavit of prosecution witness Kenny Dalandag, who implicated him in the killings.
Islam asked the court to subpoena Dalandag to testify during the course of the trial.
Meanwhile, Akmad claimed that there was no probable cause to indict him as there was no evidence showing his alleged participation in the Nov. 23, 2009 massacre.
He noted that Dalandag, in his affidavit, never mentioned his name when he talked about the meeting, flagging, and the killing of the victims.
Akmad said that, the affidavit of witness Abdul Talusan cannot be given consideration as it was only presented when the prosecution appealed the DOJ resolution that excluded him from the case.
In 2010, then DOJ Acting Secretary Alberto Agra issued a resolution excluding Akmad and another Ampatuan former Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) governor, Zaldy, from the charges.
However, Agra reversed his resolution following the appeal of the prosecution.
In denying the motions of Sajid Islam and Akmad, Solis-Reyes said discussions of the allegations raised by the two were improper as the matters raised were evidentiary in nature and must be heard in a full-blown trial.
For his part, lawyer Sherwin Real said in a separate manifestation that his client Anwar Ampatuan Sr. who is one of the sons of Andal Sr. is willing to be arraigned for the multiple murder charge.
He is set to be arraigned on June 26 after Solis-Reyes junked his petition seeking the dismissal of the case filed against him.
Real maintained the innocence of his client whom he said did not kill anyone or joined in the supposed meeting to plan the massacre.
“For about four years already, the prosecution has not proven anything except to delay Datu Anwar’s illegal incarceration through any and all conceivable means,” the manifestation said.