Massacre witnesses' transfer still needs RTC nod - Supreme Court
- Edu Punay () - August 6, 2010 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines – While the Supreme Court sees no hindrance in the transfer of detained Maguindanao massacre witnesses from Camp Bagong Diwa to the Philippine National Police (PNP) Custodial Center at Camp Crame, the move still needs the approval of the trial court handling the case, an SC official said yesterday.

Court Administrator Jose Midas Marquez clarified yesterday that the order for the transfer of the 14 accused in the massacre case who are being eyed as state witnesses will be issued by Judge Jocelyn Solis-Reyes of the Quezon City Regional Trial Court Branch 221.

He confirmed that he has cleared the transfer in as far as his outstanding circular ordering all judges to refrain from committing high-risk detainees to Camp Crame upon an earlier request by the PNP.

Marquez said he would reply today to a query from PNP Deputy Director General lawyer Jefferson Soriano seeking clearance from his office for the transfer.

In his reply to Soriano, a copy of which was obtained by The STAR, Marquez said the prohibition on having suspects detained at Camp Crame, earlier issued by his office, is “not absolute – especially if there is quiescence from PNP.”

He said his earlier order stemmed from a request from the PNP management in its bid to make Camp Crame a civilian facility and more open to the public.

Marquez said he would furnish Solis-Reyes a copy of his letter to the PNP.

This move from the Office of the Court Administrator, which has jurisdiction over all trial courts in the country, is reportedly what the RTC was waiting for in resolving the motion of prosecution seeking the transfer of their state witnesses to Camp Crame.

The PNP sought the transfer through a letter to the SC last Friday after the trial of the multiple murder case resumed recently after months of delay.

“While it could not be conclusive to think that the other prospective prosecution witnesses were likewise exposed to the same situation, the PNP finds it imperative to protect them to ensure their safety and to further serve the ends of justice,” stated the PNP letter to Marquez.

The PNP believes that the continued detention of prospective prosecution witnesses in Bicutan in close proximity with other accused “exposes them to physical harm, psychological pressure and undue influence that may adversely affect their determination and resolve to testify truthfully.”

In a five-page urgent motion last month, the prosecution, led by Assistant Chief State Prosecutor Richard Anthony Fadullon, requested the RTC to order the transfer of the police officers from Camp Bagong Diwa to Camp Crame.

The police officers wanting to be transferred include Inspector Sukarno Dicay, SPO1 Eduardo Ong, PO3 Felix Enate, Jr., PO3 Anton Rasid, PO3 Abdulgani Abibudin, PO2 Saudi Pasutan, PO2 Nana Hamad, PO2 Saudiar Ulah, PO2 Hernani Saulong Decupido Jr., PO1 Esmael Guialal, PO1 Abdullah Baguadatu, PO1 Esprielito Lejarso, PO1 Herich Amaba, and PO1 Michael Madsig.

SPO2 Badawi Bakal, one of the co-accused, asked that he be transferred to another facility away from the Ampatuans after receiving direct threat from them last April18 at around 10 a.m. in the jail.

In his earlier handwritten letter addressed to the Chief PNP, the detained policeman alleged that clan patriarch, Andal Sr., and his son, Andal Jr., told him to sign an affidavit clearing them in the carnage or his family would be killed.

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