DATU Unsay Mayor Andal Ampatuan Jr., the main suspect in the Maguindanao massacre, filed a petition for bail following a "not guilty" plea to 41 counts of murder.

But lawmakers believed that Ampatuan is not entitled to post for bail because the crime he is charged with, is not bailable.

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"He shouldn't be allowed to post bail because murder, let alone multiple murder, is a non-bailable crime. Rape is also non-bailable," said Akbayan Party-list Representative Risa Hontiveros.

Section 13, Article III of the 1987 Constitution states, "All persons, except those charged with offenses punishable by reclusion perpetua when evidence of guilt is strong, shall, before conviction, be bailable by sufficient sureties, or be released on recognizance as may be provided by law."

Murder is punishable by "reclusion perpetua" or life sentence.

For Baguio Representative Mauricio Domogan, the evidence against Ampatuan is strong, making the petition for bail not possible.

"The offenses they are being charged with are not bailable unless the evidence against them are weak and I think it is not," Domogan said.

The same statements were echoed by Cebu City Representatives Raul del Mar and Antonio Cuenco, when they said the petition of bail must be denied.

"The offense charged is capital and based on the evidence that I see, the evidence is strong therefore he is not entitled to bail," stated Del Mar.

"He should not be allowed bail because the evidence of guilt against him is very strong," Cuenco added.

Bacolod Representative Monico Puentevella meanwhile expressed certainty that Ampatuan will be convicted. "There are too many witnesses. They will be convicted of life imprisonment. They deserve it," he said.

In contrary, Quezon Representative Erin Tanada believes that Ampatuan may still be allowed to post for bail, depending on the presiding judge.

"Consequently, Andal Jr. believes he is entitled to bail. Under Criminal Procedure, this is allowed. It is up to the prosecution to prove that they have enough evidence beyond reasonable doubt to convict Andal Jr. It is for the judge to weigh the evidence presented before it," he said.

Kabataan Representative Mong Palatino said what should be more guarded are the delaying tactics of the defense team. "What is important is the speedy conduct of trial and delivery of justice. What we should anticipate and oppose are the delaying tactics of the defense team."

The multiple murder trial of Ampatuan started around 8:30 a.m. in the Police Non-Commissioned Officers' Clubhouse in Camp Crame, which was converted into a courtroom.

Discussed first was the "show cause order" of the petition of Ampatuan's camp for the Department of Justice (DOJ) to explain why Ampatuan had to be brought to DOJ for the preliminary investigation, in which a commotion with journalist ensued, hurting Ampatuan.

Presiding Judge Jocelyn Solis-Reyes of the Quezon City Regional Trial Court gave the DOJ three days to submit their explanation.

After that, the charge was read to Ampatuan in which he pleaded "not guilty."

Next in the line of discussion was the petition for bail.

Sigrid Fortun, who served as Ampatuan's defense, insisted to conduct a preliminary conference to make the trial faster but Assistant Chief State Prosecutor Richard Anthony Fadullon objected, saying that the "petition for bail" is still being discussed.

Because of this, Judge Solis-Reyes decided to continue with the proceedings but requested that fewer witnesses be presented by the prosecution.

The first witness to take the stand was National Bureau of Investigation spokesman Ric Diaz.

When asked for reaction, lawmakers said the "not guilty" plea was expected and is part of the rights of any person.

"Plea is consistent with the constitutional presumption of innocence enjoyed by any person," Del Mar said.

Domogan further said "it is their right to enter whatever plea they want and no one can question it."

The "not guilty" plea is part of the strategy being pursued by the Ampatuan defense, according to Tanada.

"Andal Ampatuan Jr.'s 'not guilty' plea is to be expected. It is pursue Andal Jr.'s position that the evidence against him is weak and not enough to convict him 'beyond reasonable doubt,'" he said.

Hontiveros, on the other hand, said the plea says something about Ampatuan himself.

"That is the plea of a person who takes impunity for his crimes for granted," she added.