Maguindanao massacre ruling out Dec. 19

MANILA — The Quezon City Regional Trial Court (RTC) is set to release its ruling on the promulgation of the decade-long Maguindanao massacre case on December 19.

In an order dated November 29 released on Monday, Branch 221 Judge Jocelyn Solis-Reyes said the promulgation of judgment on the case is “set on December 19, 2019 at 9 in the morning to be held at Quezon City Jail-Annex, Camp Bagong Diwa, Bicutan, Taguig City,”

Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra, meanwhile, welcomed this development.

“I am glad that we have finally reached the day of reckoning. The prosecution has presented nearly 200 witnesses, and the defense over a hundred, during an intense trial that lasted several years. We thank the judge for her patience and diligence. We trust that she will dispense justice evenhandedly and with the utmost respect for the rule of law,” Guevarra said in a statement.

Government lawyers earlier asked the court trying the Maguindanao massacre case to order principal accused Zaldy Ampatuan’s return to jail from the Makati hospital where he is presently seeking treatment.

In a letter dated Nov. 19 to Solis-Reyes, Makati City Jail Superintendent Warden Jhon D. Montero of the Quezon City Jail said Ampatuan remains at a hospital in Makati City less than a month before the deadline of the promulgation of the case.

Montero said Ampatuan had been in the Intensive Care Unit for one week from October 22 to October 29 before he was transferred to a regular room on the afternoon of October 29. The letter noted that Ampatuan is “still confined with continuous physical therapy and occupational therapy for plegic left arm.”

In November, the Supreme Court (SC) granted Solis-Reyes’ request to be given more time to come up with a decision.

Chief Justice Diosdado Peralta said the court considered the huge volume of evidence and parties in the case in giving a 30-day extension to Solis-Reyes.

Under court rules, all trial courts should promulgate their decision within the 90-day period after the case has been submitted for decision.

The case has been submitted for decision on August 22 which means the deadline for its promulgation should have been on November 20, three days before the massacre’s 10th anniversary on November 23.

With the extension, the QC court has until December 20 to come up with a ruling on the case.

The attack resulted in the death of 58 people, including 32 journalists and media workers, the single worst peace-time incident involving the killing of newsmen.

Other victims were family members and supporters of the Ampatuan clan’s political foe, Esmael Mangudadatu.  Benjamin Pulta / PNA –