SC upholds denial of bail for Zaldy Ampatuan

The Supreme Court first division has affirmed the denial of bail for Zaldy Ampatuan, an accused in the Maguindanao massacre of 2009./Moira Encina/Eagle News/

(Eagle News)–The  Supreme Court has affirmed a Court of Appeals decision upholding a lower court’s refusal to grant bail to former Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao governor Datu Zaldy Uy Ampatuan.

In denying the petition for review on certiorari of Ampatuan, who faces 58 counts of murder over the Maguindanao massacre, the first division noted the “failure” of Ampatuan to “sufficiently show any reversible error” in the CA decision dated April 18, 2018 and the resolution dated December 14, 2018 that upheld the Quezon City Regional Trial Court’s decision Ampatuan was probably guilty of the charges against him.

The division said deciding on his bail application on the basis of the factual issues he has raised would be tantamount to “prematurely deciding the case beyond the parameters of judicial review at this stage of the proceedings..”

“In determining the veracity of the evidence petitioner presented in support of his denial and alibi and to rebut the evidence of the prosecution, the Court will necessarily have to rule on the admissibility and probative value of these evidence,” the division explained.

The division added deciding on such would “preempt the parties from presenting their respective evidence during trial,” noting that these issues were 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,” the division said.

The victims in the 2009 Maguindanao massacre, most of them journalists, were  accompanying Esmael Mangudadatu, then the vice mayor of Buluan town, who was about to file his certificate of candidacy for ARMM governor.

Mangudadatu was then challenging Datu Unsay Mayor Andal Ampatuan Jr., Ampatuan’s brother, in the upcoming gubernatorial polls.

Mangudadatu survived and is now the representative of the second district of Maguindanao in the House of Representatives.