A Quezon City trial court has granted the bail petition of Sajid Islam Ampatuan, one of the principal accused in the Maguindanao massacre case.
Judge Jocelyn Solis-Reyes of Quezon City Regional Trial Court Branch 221 allowed the temporary release of Sajid Islam after denying the prosecution’s appeal on the granting of his bail petition.
“For the court, the mere presence of the accused during the meetings, albeit the argument that he occupied a government position, does not… translate to a conclusion of a strong evidence of guilt,” Judge Solis-Reyes said.
Sajid Islam, brother of primary suspect Andal Ampatuan Jr. and son of former Maguindanao governor Andal Ampatuan Sr, posted an P11.6-million bail for 58 counts of murder.
He is detained at the Quezon City Jail-Annex inside Camp Bagong Diwa in Bicutan, Taguig City along with other suspects in the killing of 58 people, most of whom were journalists, in Maguindanao in 2009.
Aside from the granting of the bail petition, the court also issued a hold-departure order against Sajid Islam.
Meanwhile the Department of Justice (DOJ) said it will elevate the court’s decision favoring Ampatuan to the Court of Appeals.
“I already gave instructions to the panel thru Prosecutor General Claro Arellano to avail of the proper remedy ASAP,” DOJ Secretary Leila de Lima said in a report.
The National Union of Journalists of the Philippines expressed disappointment over the court’s decision allowing the temporary release of Ampatuan.
“As we predicted, securing the amount, which most Filipinos can only dream about, was easy for a member of a clan that had built vast wealth, much of it ill-gotten, during a decade of misrule over Maguindanao province,” NUJP said in a statement.
“We demand that the DOJ get to the bottom of this and move quickly to repair the damage lest a miscarriage of justice in this case be added to the long litany of sins against press freedom and justice this administration has committed,” the organization added.