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Court upholds denial to reject evidence submitted by Ampatuan

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By Chito Chavez

The Quezon City Regional Trial Court (QCRTC) has denied the appeal of Maguindanao massacre principal accused Andal Ampatuan Jr., to reconsider its previous order that excluded five of the documentary exhibits he presented as evidence with regards to the 58 counts of murder charges filed against him.

Massacre suspect Andal Ampatuan (Photo by LINUS GUARDIAN ESCANDOR II / MANILA BULLETIN FILE PHOTO)

Maguindanao massacre suspect Andal Ampatuan (Photo by LINUS GUARDIAN ESCANDOR II / MANILA BULLETIN FILE PHOTO)

Judge Jocelyn Solis-Reyes of QCRTC Branch 221 turned down the appeal filed by Ampatuan through his lawyer, Ernest Levanza. for lack of merit.

In her Dec. 28, 2018 order on the Formal Offer of Evidence which Ampatuan filed on Nov. 5, 2018, Reyes excluded the exhibits 17, 17-C-1 and 106 A to C as part of the evidence.

Exhibit 17 is the Minutes of the Meeting of Local Executives, Sangguniang Bayan members, Punong Barangays, department heads and private sectors of Municipality of Datu Unsay Maguindanao held at the SB Session Hall on Nov. 23, 2009 from 8 a.m to 12:30 pm., which apparently attended by the accused.

Exhibit 17-C-2 is the name and signature of Datu Andal Ampatuan Jr.

Exhibit 106 A to C is the signature of Sammy Kali found on the left side portion of the Minutes of the Meeting dated Nov. 23, 2009.

Ampatuan Jr. argued the prosecution did not object to or question the documentary exhibits.

But in its comments, the prosecution stated that Ampatuan also failed to present in court both or either of his supposed witnesses, Sangguniang Bayan Secretary Zainodu Ayon or Sanggunian member Abdullah Ampatuan, who appeared to have prepared and attested the minutes of the meeting and who could authenticate it.

“Lack of proper identification is a question or issue of competency, which is exactly an objection in the admissibility of the evidence being offered,” the prosecution said in its comment.

The prosecution also cited Section 3, Rule 130 of Rules of Court which states that no documents shall be admissible other than the original documents themselves unless under certain exceptions, which do not apply in Ampatuan’s case.

In denying the motion, the court gave weight to the comments of the prosecution, saying that contrary to the allegations of the accused, the prosecution had timely filed its comments and opposition to Ampatuan’s Formal Offer of evidence.

Reyes also said the court had already denied the admission of Exhibit 17 and series on her Dec. 12, 2016 order in view of the specific objection by the prosecution that it constitute hearsay evidence for being a mere photocopy.

The court ordered Ampatuan to submit within five days to reply to the denial his appeal.

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