THE Court of Appeals (CA) has affirmed an earlier ruling of a Quezon City court granting bail to the son of former of Maguindanao governor Andal Ampatuan Sr., who is a suspect in the 2009 Maguindanao massacre.
In a decision, the CA's 16th Division denied the petition of the prosecution seeking to stop a ruling by the Quezon City Regional Trial Court (RTC) branch 221 allowing Datu Sajid Islam Ampatuan to post bail.
Ampatuan, an accused in the Maguindanao massacre, was released in March 2015 after posting P11.6 million bail. Sajid is facing 58 counts of murder.
The CA decision, penned by Associate Justice Marie Christine Azcarrage-Jacob, said QC RTC Judge Jocelyn Solis-Reyes committed no grave abuse of discretion in allowing Ampatuan to post bail.
"In the instant case, the Court finds that public respondent did not act in a whimsical, arbitrary and capricious manner when she granted private respondent's motion for bail," the CA stated.
The CA said that Reyes' decision to disregard the testimonies of Mohammad Sangki and Rex Ariel Diongon did not constitute grave abuse of discretion.
Sangki told the court that Sajid Ampatuan conspired with the other accused in planning the Maguindanao massacre, while Diongon testified that he was made to execute false affidavits inside Ampatuan's house.
The CA said their claims were not enough to establish that Ampatuan conspired with the other respondents in the Maguindanao massacre case.
The appellate court explained that the mere presence of Ampatuan in the alleged meetings and the alleged execution of false affidavits by Diongon inside his house cannot be considered a strong evidence of guilt thus could not deny Sajid's right to bail.
Associate Justices Ricardo Rosario and Edwin Sorongon concurred in the decision.
On November 23, 2009, 58 individuals, including media personnel, were killed and buried in the Ampatuan town, Maguindano, while they were on their way to accompany Esmael Mangudadatu, a vice mayor of Buluan town, in filing his certificate of candidacy.
Mangudadatu was then challenging Datu Unsay mayor Andal Ampatuan Jr., son of former Maguindanao governor Andal Ampatuan Sr. in the 2010 gubernatorial race. (SunStar Philippines)