The Court of Appeals on Thursday ordered the Office of the Solicitor General and former Gov. Zaldy U. Ampatuan to submit within seven days their respective memoranda on his petition to reverse a Justice department resolution reinstating him as co-accused in the Maguindanao massacre of 2009.
The court’s 11th division through Associate Justice Danton Q. Bueser ruled that with or without the memoranda of the parties after the 7-day deadline, Ampatuan’s case “shall be considered submitted for immediate resolution.”
Associate Justices Noel G. Tijam and Marlene Gonzales-Sison concurred with the ruling.
Zaldy Ampatuan, former governor of the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao, had asked the court to resolve his petition even without the Solicitor General taking part because he has been detained for almost nine months since his inclusion in the multiple murder cases. His youngest brother, Andal Jr., is the principal suspect.
Through lawyer Redemberto R. Villanueva, Zaldy said the court had given the Solicitor General a two-time extension of 45 days to file a comment on his petition on top of another 10 days to submit its answer. The extension expired last Sept. 16 but it turned out, the OSG filed a comment only on Sept. 17 a day after the extension expired. Still, the court admitted the SolGen’s comment on Sept. 21.
“In the interest of justice, the comment filed by the OSG is admitted,” the court stressed.
Ampatuan’s lawyer said that any delay in the resolution of his petition would be an injustice to the former governor who had earlier been cleared of the murder charges in a resolution issued by then Justice Secretary Alberto Agra on April 16, 2010.
Also cleared of the charges in the April 16, 2010 resolution was Datu Akmad Ampatuan Sr., then ARMM vice governor.
Zaldy Ampatuan told the court that Agra abused his discretion in issuing the May 5, 2010 resolution that reversed himself as he ordered the reinstatement of the charges against the two Ampatuans.
The former ARMM governor noted that in issuing the May 5, 2010 resolution, Agra accepted and gave credence to the affidavit of new witness, Abdul Talusan, whose testimony was submitted by private prosecution lawyer Nena Santos in her supplemental motion for reconsideration.
Zaldy Ampatuan stressed that his constitutionally guaranteed right to due process was violated when the former secretary gave weight to Talusan’s testimony without affording the accused a chance to present counter-evidence.
Rey Roquejo, Manila Standard Today