• Quezon City court rejects Maguindanao massacre suspects’ plea

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    A Quezon City court hearing the Maguindanao massacre case has junked for lack of merit the petitions of two members of the Ampatuan political clan to expel them from the list of suspects in the gruesome crime.

    The two—Akmad “Tato” Ampatuan and Sajid Islam Ampatuan—have yet to be arraigned for the multiple murder case.

    In a four-page omnibus order, judge Jocelyn Solis-Reyes of the Quezon City Regional Trial Court Branch 221 denied the respective motions filed by the two.

    Akmad is the son-in-law and nephew of former Maguindanao governor Andal Ampatuan Sr., while Sajid Islam the latter’s son.

    Andal Jr. or Datu Unsay, former mayor of the town that bears his name, is among the principal suspects in the case.

    Solis-Reyes said in her order that the arguments presented by Sajid Islam and Akmad in their latest motions constitute the same issues that they already raised in previous motions that have already been denied by the court.

    Previously, Akmad and Islam had questioned the court’s resolution allowing the prosecution to amend the information and include their names in 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.

    In his omnibus motion dated May 11, 2011, Islam insisted that there was no lawful 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 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 and testify during the course of the trial.

    Meanwhile, Akmad claimed in his Sept. 5, 2011 motion 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 also said the affidavit of witness Abdul Talusan cannot be given consideration as it was only presented when the prosecution appealed the Department of Justice (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.

    Later, Agra reversed his resolution following an appeal by the prosecution.
    In her latest order, Solis-Reyes said discussions of the allegations raised by Akmad and Islam were improper as the matters raised were evidentiary in nature and must be heard in a full-blown trial.

    The latest order resolves a major legal obstacle that prevents the arraignment of Akmad and Sajid Islam. Solis-Reyes has yet to schedule the arraignment of the said suspects.

    The two, together with Anwar Sr. and Anwar Sajid “Ulo’’ and Anwar “Ipi’’ Jr., were among the five arrested members of the Ampatuan clan who have yet to be arraigned for the 58 counts of murder.

    Jing Villamente

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