CA reverses RTC’s acquittal of police officer in Maguindanao massacre cases

Published June 16, 2021, 7:57 PM

by Rey Panaligan 

Court of Appeals

The Court of Appeals (CA) has reversed the acquittal by the Quezon City regional trial court (RTC) of a police officer in the 2009 Maguindanao massacre cases as it declared him guilty as an accessory in the deaths of 57 persons, 32 of them journalists.

Convicted as an accessory in the CA decision written by Associate Justice Apolinario D. Bruselas Jr. was Senior Police Officer 2 (SPO2) Badawi Bakal who was sentenced to a prison term ranging from four years and two months to 10 years in each of the 57 counts of murder.

He was also ordered liable with those convicted as accessories on the payment of civil indemnity and damages to the heirs of the 57 victims.

“The Omnibus Order of 11 March 2020 is consequently set aside insofar as it acquitted SPO2 Badawi Bakal who is hereby found guilty beyond reasonable doubt as accessory in Criminal Cases Nos. Q-09-162148 to 72; Q-09-162216 to 31; Q-10-162652 to 66; and Q-10-163766,” the CA ruled.

It said: “Bakal’s actuations immediately after the commission of the crime demonstrate his liability as an accessory. The evidence adduced against him met the prerequisite quantum of proof of evidence of guilt as an accessory to the crime of murder, in 57 counts, beyond reasonable doubt,” it said.

The appellate court granted the appeal filed by the Office of the Solicitor General (OSG) on the order issued by RTC Judge Jocelyn Solis Reyes.

Twenty-eight persons, including the three sons of late former Maguindanao Gov. Andal Ampatuan Sr. — the Ampatuan patriarch — were convicted of murder of 57 persons.

Judge Reyes ruled that “the prosecution has proven beyond reasonable doubt that the killing of the 57 victims was planned prior to November 23, 2009, and that both direct and corroborative evidence point toward this conclusion.”

Those sentenced to a maximum of 40 years in jail or reclusion perpetua were late Ampatuan patriarch’s sons –former Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) Governor Datu Zaldy Ampatuan, former Datu Unsay Mayor Datu Andal “Unsay” Ampatuan Jr., and former Shariff Aguak Mayor Datu Anwar Ampatuan Sr.

The Ampatuan patriarch was also named principal accused in the case but he died due to liver cancer in July, 2015 while confined at the National Kidney and Transplant Institute in Quezon City.

The other principal accused who were convicted as principals were Datu Anwar Sajid “Datu Ulo” Ampatuan, Datu Anwar “Datu Ipi” Ampatuan Jr., P/Inspector Saudi Mokamad, Police Officer 1 Jonathan Engid, Abedin Alamada, Talembo “Tammy” Masukat, Theng Sali, Manny Ampatuan, Nasser Esmael, Chief Inspector Sukarno Dicay, P/Supt. Abusama Mundas Maguid, P/Supt. Bahnarin Kamaong, Tato Tampogao, Mohades Ampatuan, Mohammad Datumanong, Misuari Ampatuan, Taya Bangkulat, Salik Bangkulat, Thong Guiamano, Sonny Pindi, Armando Ambalgan, Kudza Masukat, Edres Kasan, Zacaria Akli, and Samaon Andatuan.

Fifteen accused were convicted as accessories. They were P/Inspector Michael Joy Macaraeg, PO3 Felix Enante, PO3 Abdullin Abdulgani, PO3 Rasid Anton, PO2 Hamad Nana, PO2 Saudi Pasutan, PO2 Saudiar Ulah, PO1 Esprilleto Lejarso, PO1 Narkuok Mascud, PO1 Pia Kamidon, PO1 Esmael Guialal, PO1 Arnulfo Soriano, PO1 Herich Amaba, P/Senior Inspector Andulgapor Abad, and Bong Andal.

Fifty-six accused were acquitted on “reasonable doubt.” They were the late Ampatuan patriarch’s son, Shariff Saydona Mustapha, Mayor Sajid Islam Ampatuan, as well as his son-in-law Akmad Ampatuan Sr.

Also acquitted with them were 55 accused in the case.

Those killed in the Maguindanao massacre were in a convoy with then Buluan town vice mayor and now Maguindanao Rep. Esmael Mangudadatu who was to file his certificate of candidacy for the 2010 gubernatorial election.