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CA reverses cop’s acquittal in Maguindanao massacre

Evelyn Macairan (The Philippine Star) - June 18, 2021 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines — The Court of Appeals (CA) has reversed the acquittal of a police officer involved in the 2009 Maguindanao massacre that killed at least 57 people, including media workers. 

In a ruling promulgated on Monday, the appellate court’s Special Sixth Division found Senior M/Sgt. Badawi Bakal guilty of being an accessory to the crime.

Bakal was sentenced to up to 10 years in prison. He was also ordered to indemnify the families of the victims.

The CA set aside the ruling of Quezon City Regional Trial Court Branch 221 Judge Jocelyn Solis-Reyes that “utterly disregarded material and relevant evidence” and “grossly misappreciated and overlooked the evidence presented by the prosecution.”

The CA said the lower court focused on the fact that the Mangudadatu convoy did not traverse the checkpoint manned by Bakal.

The appeals court based its decision on the testimonies of Esmael Canapia and Takpan Dilon.

The witnesses said Bakal warned them not to say anything about the massacre, otherwise something bad would happen to them and their families.

The court said Bakal, who was in active service, abused his authority when he concealed the identities of the suspects, failed to effect or cause their immediate arrest and contributed to the delays in the investigation of the crime.

Associate Justice Apolinario Bruselas Jr. penned the decision, with concurrences from Justices Rafael Antonio Santos and Carlito Calpatura.

The Office of the Solicitor General filed a certiorari petition against the Omnibus Order issued by Reyes that exonerated Bakal of murder charges.

In December 2019, the Quezon City court convicted dozens of people, including the Ampatuans and several police officers, for the massacre.

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