Supreme Court extends Ampatuan massacre judgment to December

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The Supreme Court (SC) approved the petition to prolong the decision in the 10-year-long Ampatuan massacre case, in which 58 people were killed, 32 of them journalists, by 30 days or until December.

There are so many accused and there are so many victims in that case, but we also accept a meritorious extension motion and we understand her plight and we have allowed her to have a one-month extension, Chief Justice Diosdado Peralta said on Friday, November 8, referring to the request by Quezon City Regional Trial Court (RTC) Branch 211 Judge Jocelyn Solis Reyes to extend the period.

Originally scheduled for November 20, the promulgation of the judgment was based on the rules on continuous trial. You are granted a non-extendible period of 30 days from November 20 or until December 20, 2019, to determine the said criminal cases, Court Administrator Midas Marquez said to Judge Reyes in a memorandum sent on Thursday, November 7. The extension was not objected by private lawyer Nena Santos.

We’ve been waiting for 10 years, the 30 days is a short wait, Santos told reporters in a text message. There are 101 people who have been on trial for the last 10 years, with 357 witnesses being listened to by the jury.

The reports of trials have now reached 238 volumes, containing transcripts and proof of prosecution. Santos and even Secretary of Justice Menardo Guevarra said they were sure that at least the key accused, Andal Jr aka Datu Unsay, Zaldy and Datu Sajid Islam Ampatuan, were convicted.

The suspected mastermind, the father of Ampatuan Andal Sr, died during court in 2015. Two primary witnesses –Sukarno Badal, a former vice mayor in Maguindanao and the Ampatuans’ ally, and Lakmodin Saliao, the Ampatuans’ household –point out that the brothers conspired to kill the citizens in a convoy that accompanied Esmael “Toto” Mangudadatu in filing his candidacy certificate. Mangudadatu was going to run opposite Andal Jr. for Maguindanao Governor.

The massacre of 2009 was the deadliest attack on journalists and the worst case in the Philippine history of election-related violence.

I’m disappointed with what happened to the victims, but I think Judge Reyes has done her best to bring justice to the victims and also to provide the accused with the constitutionally required due process of law, Peralta said.

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