By Jeffrey Damicog
The government prosecution team encountered numerous challenges during the period it handled the 2009 Maguindanao massacre case, Senior Deputy State Prosecutor Richard Anthony Fadullon revealed on Wednesday, December 18.
The former head of the prosecution team of the Maguindanao massacre case made this revelation as Quezon City Regional Trial Court Judge Jocelyn Solis-Reyes is set to promulgate the 10-year-old case this Thursday, December 19.
“There were a lot of challenges, there were a lot of difficulties which attended this case in the 10-year period,” Fadullon intimated.
Part of the difficulties, Fadullon disclosed was the sheer number of accused who were tried in the cases.
“The sheer number of accused in this case, the sheer number of witnesses is by itself a challenge already,” said Fadullon.
“Not to mention the logistical concerns also that attend to it and the security protocols that have to be taken cared of,” he added.
There are 101 accused awaiting for the verdict including the principal accused, namely, brothers Shariff Saydona Mustapha Mayor Sajid Ampatuan, former Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) Governor Zaldy Ampatuan and his brother, former Datu Unsay Mayor Andal Ampatuan.
Among the 101 accused, only Sajid Ampatuan was granted bail by Reyes back in January 2015 and was affirmed later by the Court of Appeals on September 2017.
On the other hand, 80 of the accused remain at large.
“Imagine each accused has the right to cross examine every witness presented by the prosecution. Just imagine how long it takes,” Fadullon explained.
“And after that it’s done, you go through the process, you have to evaluate it, you have to do rebuttal. That means it further lengthens the process,” he added.
After the prosecution presents its evidence, Fadullon reminded that “defense presents its evidence.
“It’s the same thing for every witness that they present,” he said.
Though he was replaced in 2011 as head of the team, whoever remained with the team kept in touch and confided with Fadullon.
At the moment, the prosecution team has imposed a gag order and will only talk about the case after the promulgation.