By Chito Chavez
A Quezon City court has rejected the appeal of Maguindanao massacre principal accused Andal Ampatuan Jr. to defer the presentation of his evidence and hold in abeyance the trial proceedings on the 58 counts of murder charges filed against him pending the resolution of the petition for certiorari he filed before the Court of Appeals.
In a four-page order, Judge Jocelyn Solis-Reyes of the QC Regional Trial Court Branch 221 citing lack of merit ruled that the urgent motion to defer presentation of defense evidence was a mere afterthought and resorted to only delay the proceedings.
The court ordered directed Ampatuan to present his defense evidence on July 4, 5, 11, 12, 18 and 19 during the resumption of the hearing at Camp Bagong Diwa, Bicutan Taguig City.
In his motion, Ampatuan has sought for the deferment of the presentation of evidence pending the resolution of the Petition for Certiorari he filed before the CA on Dec. 11, 2017, questioning the propriety of Reyes’ order denying his petition for bail.
The accused claimed that the presentation of his evidence must be deferred since his petition has not yet been resolved and that the issues raised are intimately related and similar to the issues being tackled in the course of the trial proceedings.
Ampatuan added that he was constrained to invoke the principle of judicial courtesy in order to seek the deferment of the presentation of his evidence.
“Pending both tribunals face squarely under the exception contemplated under the principle of judicial courtesy. The petition for certiorari materially puts into question the manner by which this court (RTC) had appreciated the pieces of evidence presented during the bail bearings. The accused believes that there is a strong possibility that the findings of the appellate court shall be materially incongruent to the findings and conclusion of this court,” the accused added in his motion.
The accused also stressed that if the court proceeds to the conclusion of the present case and eventually renders a judgment of conviction against him, the issues he raised in his certiorari will be rendered moot and academic.
In the prosecution’s opposition, after several cancellations and requests for resetting, which were granted by the court, and notwithstanding the undertaking by accused’s counsel that there will be no more resetting, he is now asking for the deferment of the presentation of evidence invoking the principle of judicial courtesy.
“The accused has been abusing the leniency given to him by the court and that the present motion shows his intention to further delay the proceedings adding to the burden of this court and hampering the time to finally resolve these cases,” the prosecution added in its opposition.
In denying the motion, Reyes explained that contrary to the claim of accused on the principle of judicial courtesy, his certiorari involves an issue different from the one being tackled before her court.
“Although the evidence presented on bail proceedings are adopted during the trial on the principal case, an accused can still present additional evidence if he feels that the evidence presented on bail are not sufficient to support his defense, which are all to be submitted for the court’s determination and appreciation in deciding whether an accused is guilty or not of the crimes charged against him,” Reyes said in her order.
“Also, it is not hard to conclude that the filing of the motion was a mere afterthought and resorted only to delay the proceedings,” the order added.