By Jeffrey Damicog
The Pasig Regional Trial Court (RTC) has convicted 66 members and leaders of the Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG) for taking hostage 52 persons in Basilan in 2000, the Department of Justice (DOJ) said.
Senior state prosecutor prosecutor Peter Ong said his office on Friday received the decision of the Pasig City RTC Branch 261 against the ASG members involved in the March 20, 2000 incident in Barangay Sinangkapan in Tuburan town, Basilan.
The case included as defendants slain ASG leaders Khadaffy Janjalani, Aldam Tilao alias Abu Sabaya, and Isnilon Hapilon.
Hector Janjalni, who is currently detained in Camp Bagong Diwa in Taguig City, is also among those named as accused but the RTC did not indicate if he got convicted and only crossed out some names of those convicted.
Ong said the RTC will have another promulgation this month regarding the same incident.
In a decision over 390 pages long, the RTC convicted ASG members of serious illegal detention as defined and penalized under Article 267 of the Revised Penal Code, as amended.
Those convicted were sentenced “to suffer the penalty of reclusion perpetua without the possibility of parole for each count.”
They court also ordered that each of the accused to jointly and severally pay “each of the offended parties of their respective heirs the amounts of P75,000 as civil indemnity ex delicto, P75,000.00 as moral damages, and P30,000.00 as exemplary damages.”
Among the convicted, 29 defendants were guilty in all 52 counts of kidnapping and serious illegal kidnapping and serious illegal detention.
The RTC also listed one ASG member who is convicted for 44 counts; 10 for 41 counts; 12 for 18 counts; 11 for 7 counts; and one for 11 counts.
On the other hand, the court also acquitted 20 persons from all 52 counts of the offense.