CA affirms bail for 16 cops in Maguindanao massacre case

MANILA The Court of Appeals (CA) upheld the decision of the Quezon City Regional Trial Court (RTC) allowing the 16 policemen who were among the 198 accused in the Maguindanao massacre case, to be released on bail.

In a three-page resolution penned by Associate Justice Jhosep Lopez, concurred by Associate Justices Ramon Bato Jr. and Samuel Gaerlan, the CA 10th Division denied the government prosecutors' motion for reconsideration seeking the reversal of Quezon RTC Branch 221 Presiding Judge Jocelyn Solis-Reyes' decision granting the petition for bail filed by the 16 accused police officers who are members of the 1508th Provincial Mobile Group (PMG).

It noted that the arguments raised in the motion for reconsideration filed by government prosecutors are not different from what they raised in their previous pleadings, which have already been duly considered in its July 2017 decision.

After a careful calibration of the parties' perspective arguments, the Court is convinced that no new and legitimate ground was raised to reverse or set aside the Court's earlier finding, the CA said.

Be that as it may, the Court has once given petitioner's submissions a thorough and objective review but even on second hard look no cogent reason surfaces to warrant the reconsideration sought, the CA explained.

As it is, the arguments advanced in support of the motion are not compelling or persuasive enough to impel the Court to justify petitioner's desired course of action or to warrant a possible reversal or setting aside of the Court's decision, it added.

In seeking the reversal of the CA's decision, government prosecutors held that Reyes committed grave abuse of discretion and acted in excess of jurisdiction in granting the petition for bail of the accused.

It noted that the judge limited herself to the testimonies of only 13 out of the 35 prosecution witnesses and disregarded other undisputed and material facts which would warrant the dismissal of the bail petition.

The prosecution insisted that it presented strong evidence sufficient to establish the guilt of the accused in the Maguindanao massacre.

The appellate court, in the said ruling, affirmed the order issued by presiding judge Solis-Reyes on October 13, 2014 which granted the petition for bail.

Reyes, in granting their bail applications, noted that none of the testimonies or exhibits presented by the prosecution had particularly linked and identified the police officers to the relevant times and places surrounding the alleged killing of the victims.

Granted bail were PO1 Heirich Amaba, PO3 Rasid Anton, PO3 Felix Enate, PO1 Esprielito Lejarso, PO1 Narkouk Mascud, SPO1 Eduardo Hong, PO2 Saudi Pasuta, PO1 Arnulfo Soriano, PO1 Pia Kamidon, PO3 Abibudin Abdulgani, PO2 Hamad Nana, PO1 Esmael Guilal, SPO1 Oscar Donato, PO1 Abdullah Baguadatu, PO2 Saudiar Ulah, and Insp. Michael Joy Macaraeg.

On Nov. 23, 2009, 58 people were killed in the worst election-related violence in the country that was allegedly masterminded by the Ampatuan clan to thwart the candidacy of Esmael Mangudadatu in the 2010 elections.

Source: Philippine News Agency

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