June 23, 2018, 3:27 pm
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8 years after the Maguindanao massacre, still no convictions

EIGHT years after the Maguindanao massacre where 58 people, including 38 journalists, were killed, none of the accused has been convicted.

The massacre, which happened in Nov. 23, 2009, has reaped local and international outrage. 

A case update released by the Supreme Court showed that while there have been no convictions, cases against the accused led by former mayor Andal “Unsay” Ampatuan Jr. are now in the final stages of trial, namely the resolution of the remaining formal offer of evidence-in-chief, demurrers to evidence and the termination of the presentation of the defense evidence.

“As soon as the accused have rested their presentation of evidence, their respective cases may already be submitted for the decision of the Court,’ the SC said.

It said it is now the turn of the accused to present their evidence-in-chief.

“Thirty one accused have already concluded the presentation of their evidence. Thirty four more accused are currently presenting their respective defense evidence-in-chief,” it added.

The SC said as of Nov. 21, the Quezon City RTC has already heard 273 witnesses, divided into 166 for the prosecution and 107 for the defense, and resolved all 15 sets of formal offer of evidence in connection with the bail applications of 70 accused.

“The Court has likewise resolved all bail applications of the accused, including that of accused Andal “Unsay” Ampatuan Jr., which was denied last May,” it said.

The High Court said the QC trial court can render judgment separately on each accused and not wait for all the accused to conclude presenting their evidence.

The SC also said the court proceedings are being actively attended by 10 lawyers that comprise the third panel of public prosecutors, eight private prosecutors, and 23 defense lawyers.

It added that the transcripts of stenographic notes of the case have now reached 59 volumes, while the records of the cases are 129 volumes thick, plus 10 volumes of prosecution’s evidence.

It said that four of the accused, including former Maguindanao governor Andal Ampatuan Sr., died while in detention while four others were acquitted by the RTC for lack of probable cause.

Another accused, Sajid Ampatuan, was released on bail last 2015.

Of the 197 accused, security forces have arrested 115, the latest of which according to the SC is former police officer Jonathan Engid who was nabbed last February.

Engid was arrested after a brief firefight with the security forces out to arrest him in Pikit, North Cotabato based on the warrant issued by the Quezon City RTC in connection with his alleged role in the massacre. 
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