Friday, July 6, 2012

Indictment of Ampatuan son in massacre case affirmed

..MANILA (Updated) -- The Supreme Court (SC) affirmed the Court of Appeals (CA) decision ordering the inclusion of detained former Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (Armm) governor Zaldy Ampatuan in list of accused in the Maguindanao massacre case.

In a resolution dated June 25, 2012, the SC's Third Division junked the petition filed by Ampatuan, which sought for his exclusion from the 57 counts of murder filed against his father, former Maguindanao governor Andal Ampatuan Sr., and several relatives.

The Ampatuans are charged with multiple murders, in relation to the murder of 57 individuals, among them 32 media workers, on November 23, 2009, in a highway in Maguindanao province.

The SC ruled that Zaldy Ampatuan failed to show that the appellate court committed grave abuse of discretion in issuing its final ruling on November 8, 2011, ordering the Quezon City regional trial court to proceed with the trial.

"After review of the records, the Court resolves to deny the petition for failure to show that the CA any reversible error in affirming the May 5, 2010 resolution of the Department of Justice (DOJ) that ordered the reinstatement of the criminal information for murder against petitioner Datu Zaldy 'Puti' Ampatuan," the SC said.

In its November 8, 2011 decision, the CA did not give weight to Ampatuan's claim that the DOJ grossly violated his constitutionally guaranteed right to due process when it issued a resolution on May 5, 2010, reversing its April 16 resolution, based on a new evidence which was not presented during the preliminary investigation.

The DOJ's May 5, 2010, resolution, according to the CA, was in accordance "with the facts, the law and prevailing jurisprudence on the matter at hand."

In his April 16 resolution, then Justice Secretary Alberto Agra reversed the order of the investigating prosecutors and excluded Ampatuan from the multiple murder charges.

He noted that the latter was able to sufficiently establish that he was in Davao City from November 20, 2009 up to the early morning of November 23, 2009, when he flew to Manila and on the following day from Manila to Cotabato contrary to the testimony of the National Bureau of Investigation witness Kenny Dalandag.

Agra, however, abandoned the said resolution after it was met with public outrage.

Ampatuan, in his petition at the CA, noted that in issuing the May 5 resolution, Agra accepted and gave credence to the affidavit of new witness Abdul Talusan, which was submitted by private prosecution lawyer Nena Santos in her supplemental motion for reconsideration.

In a related development, a man who was set to testify in the Maguindanao massacre surfaced to prove he is still alive. Menzi Mangulamas Ubpon said he was not thrown into Liguasan Marsh.

He received death threats after news spread that he was set to testify against the Ampatuan clan. Ubpon was a former employee of the Shariff Aguak municipal office.

He went into hiding for the past five months after receiving death threats. On December 29, 2011, he was shot while walking to his farm in Shariff Aguak. Despite being wounded he was able to flee towards a safer location.

Ubpon showed his identification card and a resident certificate (cedula) as proof that his real name is Rahim Ubpon, and Menzi is only his alias.

He earlier appeared before members of the media in a secret location to prove that he is alive and well. (JCV/Edgardo Fuerzas of Sun.Star Davao/Sunnex)