MANILA, Philippines - The Court of Appeals (CA) on Wednesday affirmed the inclusion of former Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) Governor Zaldy Ampatuan as one of the primary accused in the Maguindanao massacre case.
In a 16-page Resolution penned by Associate Justice Noel Tijam, the appellate court's Special Former Eleventh Division junked Ampatuan's motion for reconsideration (MR) on its earlier ruling that upheld the Department of Justice's (DOJ) filing of the criminal information against Ampatuan with a Quezon City trial court.
The appellate court told Ampatuan he has enough opportunity to prove his innocence before the trial court.
“The trial is still ongoing and petitioner is neither barred nor denied the right to foist whatever valid defense he has. For the entire duration of the trial, he has ample opportunity to confront and discredit the witnesses against him,” the Resolution read.
The appellate court dismissed Ampatuan's bid to avoid indictment in the multiple murder case, stating that former Justice chief Alberto Agra did not commit grave abuse of discretion in reinstating Ampatuan as one of the primary accused.
On April 16, 2010, Agra issued a Resolution absolving Ampatuan of involvement in the grissly Nov. 23, 2009 killings. Agra, however, reversed this ruling and reinstated Ampatuan as primary accused on May 5, 2010.
In junking Ampatuan's bid for a reinvestigation of the case, the appellate court held that such "would cause a grave injustice both to the prosecution as well as to the defense."
The appellate court also held that the DOJ has the authority to conduct preliminary investigation of criminal cases.
“The search for the truth must be hastened, once and for all so that the guilty will be punished and the innocent will be exonerated without delay,” the Resolution read.
57 people, mostly journalists and members of rival Mangudadatu clan, were killed in the massacre described by New York-based Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) as the worst single deadliest event for journalists in history.