THE highly-notorious Maguindanao massacre case will resume its arraignment hearing today, Wednesday; its first court trial under the administration of President Benigno “Noynoy” Aquino III.

Set to be arraigned before the sala of Quezon City Regional Trial Court (RTC) Branch 221 Judge Jocelyn Solis-Reyes are former Datu Unsay mayor Andal Ampatuan Jr. and 20 other suspects including suspended police officers.

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State Prosecutor Juan Pedro Navera identified the rest of the accused as Superintendent Abdulwahid Pedtucasan, Chief Inspectors Sukarno Dicay, Abdulgapor Abad, Rex Ariel Diongon, and Michael Joy Macaraeg; Police Officer 1s Michael Macarongon, Mohammad Balading, Herich Amaba, Esprielito Lejarso, Rainer Ebus, and Pia Kamidon; Police Officer 2s Hernanie Decipulo Jr., Saudiar Ulah, and Saudi Pasutan; Police Officer 3 Rasid Anton; as well as Takpan Dilon, Esmael Canapia, Muhamad Sangki, Maot Dumla, and Thong Guimano.

“We are prepared for the arraignment which the court set at 8:30 Wednesday morning. Handa na kami sa prosecution panel,” Navera said.

Last week, the court junked the bid of Pedtucasan, Dicay, Abad, Anton, Macaronong and Balading, questioning the determination of probable cause by the Justice department for their indictment.

The ruling paved the way for their inclusion in Wednesday’s arraignment.

But the court also dropped a police officer, Johann Draper, from the charge sheet for lack of probable cause bringing the number of accused to 196 from 197.

Initially, the prosecutors filed 56 counts of murder against the accused in the massacre because the body of the 57th victim was yet to be accounted for. The court already issued the 56 arrest warrants for the 135 accused, all of whom are still at large.

Of the accused, only 62 are detained in Camp Bagong Diwa including members of the powerful Ampatuan clan led by its patriarch, Andal Sr., and former Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao governor Zaldy.

Among the victims in the November 23, 2009 carnage include journalists and relatives and friends of then gubernatorial candidate Toto Mangudadatu. The Ampatuans and Mangudadatus are political rival clans in Maguindanao. (AH/Sunnex)