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    Maguindanao massacre verdict out today: Everything you need to know

    MANILA, Philippines – After a decade, the long-awaited verdict on the massacre that shocked the nation back in 2009 will finally be decided today, December 19.

    101 out of a total of 197 accused are charged with 58 counts of murder for all the person that were killed in a gruesome murder in a hill at Shariff Aguak in Maguindanao on November 23, 2009.

    Victims were buried in a hilltop grave in Ampatuan, Maguindanao.
    Victims were buried in a hilltop grave in Ampatuan, Maguindanao.

    The accused could face reclusion perpetua or 40 years in prison for each count, although the Revised Penal Code limits service of prison sentence to a maximum of 40 years.

    SEE ALSO: LIVESTREAM: Maguindanao Massacre verdict

    At that time, now-House Rep. Esmael “Toto” Mangudadatu was going to challenge the long-standing political power of the Ampatuans clan for the gubernatorial seat. Due to the tension, Mangudadatu had his wife, 2 sisters, and 12 other relatives and supporters, 2 lawyers and a father of one of the lawyers and 32 journalists file his certificate of candidacy (COC). All of them, including 2 drivers, 6 passersby were all allegedly attacked by Ampatuans private army.

    It is said that it was Datu Andal “Unsay” Ampatuan Jr., son of the late patriarch Andal Ampatuan, Sr., ordered and led more than 100 of their armed men to block the convoy and shot each of the victim. He then ordered the bodies be buried in a shallow grave in Ampatuan town using a backhoe.

    The incident has caused waves in the Philippine society as many called out the abuse of power of political clans in poor regions such as Maguindanao. Dubbed as the Maguindanao massacre, it was considered as the single deadliest event for journalists in history.

    The defense

    Datu Andal “Unsay” Ampatuan Jr, considered to be the mastermind denied their involvement. His defense was that he was busy attending meetings from 8:35 am to 12:30 p.m., at the Datu Unsay town municipal hall, where he was mayor at the time of the incident.

    Unsay's brother Former Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao governor Datu Zaldy “Puti” Ampatuan, allegedly took part in the plot. He was supposed to be in charge of killing Mangudadatu if he filed his COC in Manila.

    His defense was that he was in a meeting with then-President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo in Malacañang when the incident happened.

    Another brother, Datu Sajid Islam Ampatuan, allegedly also joined the meeting in the plot. His defense was that he had been avoiding his family after he was removed OIC governor of Maguindanao a month before the killings. He said he was with his wife, who was filing her own COC at Shariff Saydona town, 15 minutes away from the crime scene. He was granted bail in 2015 after witnesses said he didn't say a single word during the plot's meeting.

    Datu Anwar Ampatuan Sr., another sibling, then mayor of Shariff Aguak, was allegedly in charge of helping his brother Datu Unsay escape after the killings. His sons, Datu Anwar Sajid Ampatuan alias Datu Ulo and Datu Anwar Ampatuan Jr. alias Datu Ipi, are also among those charged.

    Other Ampatuans charged are Datu Akmad “Tato” Ampatuan, Sr., nephew and son-in-law of Andal Sr., and Jimmy Ampatuan.

    Over 54 police officers led by Police Maj. Sukarno Dicay, then chief of the Philippine National Police 15th Regional Mobile Group and 39 other civilians are also facing charges.

    Promulgation

    Quezon City Regional Trial Court Branch 221 Judge Jocelyn Solis-Reyes is expected to read her verdict on the high-profile case today.

    Under the law, to prove that the killings were fall under murder any of the following elements must be presented by the prosecution:

    • evident premeditation
    • taking advantage of superior strength,
    • treachery, cruelty, in an uninhabited place, by a band, or armed with firearms

    For the final verdict, stay tuned on The Summit Express.

    — Sally, The Summit Express

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