This photo, taken on Dec. 18, 2009, shows Andal Ampatuan Jr., a principal accused in the 2009 massacre of 58 people in Maguindanao province, being arrested. (File photo from Philippine Daily Inquirer)
After nine years of waiting, relatives of the 58 people — 32 of them journalists – who met a gruesome death in Maguindanao on Nov. 23, 2009, will soon hear the verdict on those accused of perpetrating the massacre.
“Per information from our prosecution panel, the case against [Datu Andal] Unsay [Ampatuan Jr.] is now submitted for decision upon ruling of the court on his formal offer of exhibits,” Acting Prosecutor General Richard Anthony Fadullon told reporters Monday.
Last Nov. 5, Ampatuan Jr. submitted his formal offer of evidence to wrap up the trial that started in January 2010.
Fadullon, chief of the DOJ’s prosecutorial arm, said RTC Judge Jocelyn Solis-Reyes was expected to now set the promulgation of the case where she would decide whether to convict or acquit Ampatuan.
“The court has yet to set the date of promulgation, which will cover Unsay and all other accused — except those who were belatedly arrested,” he added.
The massacre — which caught the world’s attention for having the most number of journalists killed in a single incident — will mark its ninth anniversary this Friday.
DOJ Secretary Menardo Guevarra earlier said they were expecting the RTC to decide on the case in the first quarter next year, expressing confidence that the prosecution had presented strong evidence to establish the guilt of Ampatuan and other principal accused.
There are a total of 197 accused in the massacre.
Out of the 197 accused, 103 are currently undergoing trial for multiple murders, including prime suspect Andal Ampatuan Jr.
Also facing the same charges are his brothers Zaldy Ampatuan and Datu Sajid Islam Ampatuan. The latter was allowed, however, by the court to post bail in January 2015.
Another accused, former Maguindanao Gov. Andal Ampatuan Sr. died in detention last July 17, 2015.
The trial court has already heard a total of 273 witnesses — 166 for the prosecution and 107 for the defense. It also also managed to resolve all the 15 sets of formal offers 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. /atm
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