QC court dismissed case against Ampatuans
The Quezon City Regional Trial Court Monday junked rebellion charges against Gov. Andal Ampatuan Sr. and six other members of his influential clan in relation with the massacre of 57 people last November 23 last year and ordered their release.
Referring to lack of evidence, the Ampatuans gained a favored decision.
Judge Vivencio Baclig of RTC Branch 77 said that the prosecution committed abuse of discretion by “ignoring a clear lack of evidence to support a finding of probable cause” based on the 18-page order.
“The essential element of public armed uprising against the government is lacking. There were no masses or multitudes involving crowd action done in furtherance of a political end,” Baclig said.
“Absent the required probable cause for rebellion, the prosecution should not have proceeded to file the case against the accused.”
The release of the Ampatuans was ordered by Baclig, unless they are held by a court of law for other lawful causes.
However, according to Lt. Col. Randolph Cabangbang, spokesperson of the Eastern Mindanao Command, the Ampatuans and members of his family are facing other cases that are still connected with the massacre that’s why they could not be freed.
Since the Ampatuans are also facing numerous murder charges before RTC Branch 221’s Judge Jocelyn Solis-Reyes, the accused would wait in detention while awaiting trial for the massacre, said acting Justice Secretary Alberto Agra.
Meanwhile, Maguindanao governor’s lawyer Sigfried Fortun said that his client should be freed since Reyes had not issued an arrest warrant for multiple murder. Though the reason for this is because the accused had already been under arrest.
Other members of the Ampatuan clan still in custody for rebellion are Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao Gov. Zaldy Uy Ampatuan, Akmad Tato Ampatuan, Anwar Ampatuan and Sajid Islam Uy Ampatuan, Takpan Dilon and Esmael Canapia. There are still 20 others who were charged with rebellion by the Department of Justice for allegedly organizing a rebellion right after the massacre of members of the rival Mangudadatu clan who were supposedly on their way to file a certificate of candidacy for governor.
Among those slaughtered were thirty journalists. It was the largest group of media people to be killed in one incident anywhere in the world.
The Ampatuans were arrested in the early part of December of last year, which followed the declaration of martial law in Maguindanao, which ended for eight days.
With Sigfrid Fortun as their lawyer, there is always hope for the accused. However, can he still win the murder case that everyone clamors for justice? The rebellion case might have just been filed in order to declare "martial law" because waiting for warrant of arrest to search each suspect’s residence can just give them time to cover up on the murder evidences if there are any. That is why many already expects that this rebellion case will be put to junk. Now, the true battle against the massacre begins.