The Maguindanao massacre trial prosecution will ask a Quezon City court to arraign "as soon as possible" murder suspect Rizaldy Ampatuan in the high-profile case, almost two years after the killings happened.
The request came after the Court of Appeals Eleventh Division upheld — 4-1 — in a ruling the suspect's inclusion on the charge sheet on the killing of 57 people at Barangay Salman in Ampatuan, Maguindanao on November 23, 2009.
However, prosecution cannot yet ask Judge Jocelyn Solis-Reyes of the QC Regional Trial Court Branch 221 to arraign Ampatuan due to a separate motion from the Ampatuan camp to determinate the probable cause filed before Solis-Reyes' sala.
“[That is why] we pray for the speedy resolution of his motion for the judicial determination of probable cause," said Assistant Regional State Prosecutor Peter Medalle in his oral motion during Wednesday's trial at Camp Bagong Diwa in Taguig City.
Solis-Reyes noted Medalle's request but said she has yet to receive a copy of the latest CA ruling.
Private prosecutor Nena Santos claimed the prosecution is now closer to having the suspended Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao governor arraigned.
"There is still a pending incident before the Quezon City court at hihilingin namin na ma-resolve ito ASAP para mapa-arraign na namin s’ya ASAP," said Santos, who is legal counsel for complainant Maguindanao Gov. Esmael Mangudadatu.
Without contesting the decision
Mangudadatu lost his wife and two sisters in the carnage that also left 32 journalists dead.
Ampatuan and his father, clan patriarch Andal Sr., were not arraigned along with other suspects after the two elevated their case to the appellate court seeking for a reinvestigation to get their names stricken off the charge sheet.
Andal Sr.'s request was the first the CA denied. Instead of elevating the matter to the Supreme Court, the Andal Sr. camp decided to move for his arraignment. He pleaded not guilty to charges of 57 counts of murder.
In the younger Ampatuan's request, he asked the court to consider a ruling by former Justice Alberto Agra clearing him of the murder charges.
While Santos acknowledged that Zaldy also has the right to elevate the CA denial before the high court, she hoped he would just do what his father did without contesting the decision.
"Siyempre umaasa kami na sana si Zaldy magpa-arraign na lang din kaagad... Pero malalaman din natin eventually kung ano ang desisyon nila," Santos said.
Zaldy's lawyer, Howard Calleja, said he and the other members of his client's legal team still need to discuss their next move after the CA ruling. He visited Zaldy at the Quezon City Jail Annex detention cell inside Camp Bagong Diwa earlier in the day.
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