SC affirms bail denial of Zaldy Ampatuan

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    THE Supreme Court has upheld the decisions of the Court of Appeals and the Quezon City Regional Trial Court denying the petition for bail of former ARMM governor Zaldy Ampatuan, one of the main accused in the 2009 Maguindanao massacre case where 58 people were killed, including 32 print and broadcast journalists.

    In a resolution dated July 22 but released only yesterday, the SC First Division ruled that Ampatuan failed to show evidence that the appellate court erred when it sustained in April 2018 and again on December 14, 2018, the decision of the QC RTC Branch 221 denying his bail application.

    “After a perusal of the records of the case, this Court resolves to deny the petition for failure of the petitioner to sufficiently show any reversible error in the assailed decision and resolution of the Court of Appeals,” part of the SC’s six page decision stated.

    The SC likewise said it was not a trier of facts, noting that Ampatuan’s defense of general denial and alibi in seeking the grant of bail were considered factual issues that were beyond the jurisdiction of the high court.

    “By deciding for or against his bail application on the basis of factual issues raised by petitioner, the Court will be prematurely deciding the case beyond the parameters of judicial review at this stage of the proceedings and pre-empt the parties from presenting their respective evidence during trial,” the SC said.

    It added the issues raised by Ampatuan in his petition are best discussed in the trial of the case.

    “This Court is of the view that these issues are best threshed out in a full blown trial. The Court must defer making a conclusion on this matter since the participation of conspirators, principals, accomplices, and accessories are matters adjudged as a whole at the conclusion of the evidence-in-chief,” it added.

    Judge Jocelyn Solis Reyes of QC RTC Branch 221 had dismissed in September 15, 2015 Ampatuan’s bail petition saying there was “strong evidence on record” that in purported gatherings prior to the massacre, the former governor joined the various discussions regarding the alleged plan to commit the crime and even gave suggestions on how to make it more effective.