MANILA — The National Union of Journalists of the Philippines (NUJP) expressed disappointment at the Court of Appeals’ affirmation of the bail granted to Sajid Ampatuan, one of the principal suspects in the November 23, 2009 Ampatuan massacre.
In a four-page resolution, CA denied the appeal of the Department of Justice (DOJ) for a reversal of two orders issued by QC-RTC Branch 221 Judge Jocelyn Reyes which granted Sajid’s motions to post bail.
In a statement, the NUJP said it finds “incredulous that the prosecution had miserably failed to prove the involvement of a key member of the clan proven to be present at the meetings during which the massacre was planned.
The RTC ruling stated that Sajid’s mere presence during the meetings with the other accused, including his father and other members of their clan, does not translate to a conclusion of a strong evidence of guilt.
The NUJP reiterated its earlier statement on the granting of bail, “These meetings were basically clan councils in which, as is common in Filipino culture, silence means consent. And it is stretching credulity to think that Sajid Islam, who was then acting Maguindanao governor, had absolutely no participation in the planning and execution of what was obviously a major operation in his domain, involving a veritable army of retainers and police personnel.”
“We can only hope our fears about the possible adverse effects this development may have on the cause of justice for the 58 victims of the massacre, among them 32 colleagues, is unfounded,” the NUJP said.
Sajid was released from jail in March 2015 after posting a P200,000 bail bond per case or a total of P11.6 million for 58 counts of murder in connection with the Ampatuan massacre.