SC junks bail request of Zaldy Ampatuan

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THE Supreme Court denied the bid of former Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) Governor Zaldy Ampatuan to be released on bail by upholding the ruling earlier issued by the Quezon City Regional Trial Court (QCRTC) and Court of Appeals (CA).

In 2015, the QCRTC Branch 221 denied Ampatuan’s bail petition. Government prosecutor­s opposed his bail petition by presenting around 300 pieces of exhibits and testimonie­s.

The pieces of evidence include sworn statements of various witnesses including then Maguindana­o Governor Esmael Mangudadat­u,

former Ampatuan Vice Mayor Rasul Sangki, accused-turned-state witnesses Sukarno Badal and Esmael Canapia, and eyewitness­es Noh Akil, Lakmodin Saliao, and Esmail Amil Enog.

Other evidence include medico-legal reports, autopsy pictures, anatomical sketches of the cadavers done based on the descriptio­n mentioned in the witnesses’ records from the telecommun­ications companies.

Ampatuan took his case to the Court of Appeals but did not get its nod.

The appeals court through Associate Justice Marie Christine Azcarraga-Jacob said the lower court’s decision denying his bail plea “was not unreasonab­le but, on the contrary, was the result of a thorough assessment of the evidence presented before the trial court. By making a preliminar­y appraisal of the merits of the case, public respondent did not exercise her discretion in a careless manner.”

“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 Supreme Court said.

“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,” the high court added.

The case of 58 counts of murder is already submitted for decision.

Out of the 197 accused, 103 went on trial including prime suspect Andal Ampatuan Jr., Zaldy Ampatuan and one of their sibling, Datu Sajid Islam Ampatuan though the latter was allowed to post bail by the court in January 2015.

Another accused, former Maguindana­o Governor Andal Ampatuan Sr. died in detention last July 17, 2015.

The trial court has heard a total of 273 witnesses divided into 166 for the prosecutio­n and 107 for the defense while it also managed to resolve all the 15 sets of formal offer of evidence in connection with the bail applicatio­ns of 70 accused.

The prosecutio­n panel in this case is composed of 10 public prosecutor­s and eight private prosecutor­s, as against the 23 defense lawyers and law firms. The transcript­s of stenograph­ic notes have reached 59 volumes, while the records of the cases are 129 volumes thick, plus 10 volumes of prosecutio­n’s evidence. PRESIDENT Duterte on Tuesday night warned that the Philippine­s would be in trouble if Vice President Leni Robredo became the president.

“Oh ma’am, if you are President of the Philippine­s, we’re dead. You do not even read the book and that is the major policy,” the President said.

In two of his speeches in Malacañang on Tuesday night, the President slammed Robredo for supposedly not reading and understand­ing the law.

The President said he quoted from the Anti Graft and Corrupt Practices Act when he told policemen in Camp Crame in August that they may accept gifts of nominal value given to them by grateful citizens.

“I quoted the very words, antigraft and corrupt practices. There is an exemption there. Nominal. I use the word, nominal, out of gratitude. You know Filipinos are like that,” he said.

The President went on: “Then Leni says, ‘It’s illegal and unconstitu­tional.’”

Sen. Panfilo Lacson and Robredo were among those who criticized him for his position.

The senator, in a tweet, warned that “Mr. President, insatiable greed starts with simple, petty graft. It could be more addicting than drugs. There is no detox, nor is there rehab facility available for addiction to money.”

Vote recount finished For her part, Robredo cited the Republic Act No. 6713 or the “Code of Conduct and Ethical Standards for Public Officials and Employees” in stressing that it is illegal for government employees to accept gifts, indirectly or indirectly.

As this developed, the Supreme Court, acting as the Presidenti­al Electoral Tribunal (PET), has finished the recount of votes asked by former senator and losing vice presidenti­al candidate Ferdinand Marcos Jr.

The report on the results of the revision and recount of votes cast in 5,415 precincts in the provinces of Iloilo, Negros Oriental and Camarines Sur was submitted to the 15-member tribunal on Monday by Supreme Court Associate Justice Benjamin Caguioa, who was in charge of the electoral protest case.

Robredo narrowly beat Marcos by 263,473 votes in the May 2016 vice presidenti­al elections.

If the report upheld the official results and Robredo’s victory, the PET may no longer continue the recount and dismiss Marcos’ protest. Inquirer

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