CA affirms indictment of another Ampatuan
MANILA, Philippines - The Court of Appeals (CA) has affirmed the indictment of another Ampatuan clan member for the gruesome killing of 58 individuals in what is known as the Maguindanao massacre on Nov. 23, 2009.
In a 12-page decision by its Special First Division promulgated on September 10, penned by Associate Justice Rodil Zalameda, the appellate court dismissed the petition filed by Sajid Islam Ampatuan, son of former Maguindanao Governor Andal Ampatuan, Sr., a co-accused, questioning the Department of Justice (DOJ) resolutions which found probable cause against him for multiple murder.
"[T]he petition is hereby dismissed. Accordingly, the assailed DOJ Resolutions dated 17 June 2011 and 25 January 2013, affirming the finding of probable cause for the crime of multiple murder against petitioner and others, stand," the decision read.
The appellate court pointed out that Sajid Islam "failed to show that the Secretary of Justice committed wanton, whimsical, unfettered and capricious exercise [of] judgment."
Sajid Islam was earlier arraigned last August 7; he pleaded "not guilty" before the sala of Quezon City Regional Trial Court (RTC) Branch 221 Judge Jocelyn Solis-Reyes.
In his petition, Sajid Islam accused the DOJ of grave abuse of discretion when it denied his petition for review and motion for reconsideration on the finding of probable cause against him.
He also questioned the basis the resolutions, which is the affidavit of prosecution witnesses Kenny Dalandag and Noh Sapal Akil.
He described Dalandag's affidavit as "bewildering and unbelievable," and "contrary to established physical evidence." He also argued Akil's affidavit contains "irrelevant matters."
In his defense, Sajid Islam pointed out that he was in Shariff Saydona Mustafa, and not in Ampatuan town, the site of the massacre, at the time of the carnage.
However, the appellate court agreed with the DOJ when it ruled "that the defense of alibi raised by petitioner cannot prosper."
The CA said that Sajid Islam failed to prove that it was physically impossible for him to be in Barangay Matagabon or Barangay Salman where the convoy of the victims was flagged down.
"It cannot be denied, too, that the defense of alibi is a matter of evidence that is best ventilate in a full-blown trial and not during preliminary investigation where the inquiry is limited to whether or not there is probable cause to believe that a crime is committed and that the respondent is probably guilty thereof," the decision read.
Concurring with the decision are Associate Justices Francisco Acosta and Pedro Corales.