Court Denies Unsay Ampatuan’s Bail Petitions

Posted by cmfr | Posted in Ampatuan Trial Watch, Case Updates | Posted on 13-06-2017

SEVEN YEARS after the trial began, the Quezon City Regional Trial Court finally resolved to deny last May 30 the bail petitions filed by the main accused in the Nov. 23, 2009 Ampatuan Massacre.

In a 48-page resolution, Branch 221 Judge Jocelyn Solis-Reyes said there was strong evidence that Andal “Unsay” Ampatuan Jr. participated in the killing of 58 persons, including 32 journalists and media workers, in Ampatuan town, Maguindanao on Nov. 23, 2009.

The court ruled that Unsay Ampatuan’s defense that he was in another Maguindanao town at the time of the killing failed to outweigh the positive identification by prosecution witnesses that he participated in the Nov. 23, 2009 massacre.

“This Court is of the opinion that the defense failed to substantiate the alibi of the accused regarding his presence in the locus criminis on November 23, 2009 to such level of making a ‘contentious’ issue of his location on that day,” said the court.

The prosecution presented evidence that Unsay Ampatuan participated both in the Nov. 17, 2009 meeting at the house of Zaldy Ampatuan where they planned to intercept the filing of Esmael “Toto” Mangudadatu’s certificate of candidacy, and in the execution of such plans on Nov. 23, 2009. The court however ruled that the prosecution failed to clearly establish the presence of Unsay in the first meeting.

The court finding that there is strong evidence of guilt, enough to serve as basis to deny Unsay Ampatuan’s petition for bail, does not necessarily mean a conviction for murder. A conviction requires the presentation of more evidence to convince the court of the guilt of the accused.

As the court noted: “The grant or denial of bail applications requires only strong evidence of guilt, based on the evidence so far presented, and not guilt beyond reasonable doubt, which already considers all the evidence in these criminal cases.”

Unsay was among the 70 accused who applied for bail in the Ampatuan Massacre case. His first bail petition was filed on Dec. 3, 2009 before the RTC Cotabato City Branch 15, where the murder Informations were originally filed. He later filed the second petition for the 57th Information (for Victor Nunez) on Sept. 9, 2010 and third for the 58th Information (for Reynaldo Momay) on June 19, 2013.

Although 42 of the accused were granted bail, only Sajid Islam Ampatuan was released on bail. He was the only accused able to pay the bail bond of PHP11.6 million (approximately USD258,266 in January 2015) or PHP200,000 (USD4,453) for each count of murder.

Lawyers for the defense are currently presenting their evidence before the Quezon City trial court. Hearings are set every Wednesdays and Thursdays.