Thursday Dec, 01 2022 05:15:39 AM

DOJ drops fiscal’s case vs. Mangudadatus

BANGSAMORO NEWS UPDATES • 08:30 AM Fri Nov 11, 2022

COTABATO CITY - THE Department of Justice has dismissed for lack of probable cause two criminal charges lodged against two members of the prominent Mangudadatu family and two others in Maguindanao.

A resolution promulgated on October 27 by Justice Secretary Jesus Crispin Remulla stemmed from a petition for review filed before the DoJ by respondents Zajid “Dong” Mangudadatu  (Zajid), Khadafeh “Toy” Mangudadatu (Khadafeh), Tunggal Usop, Mamayang Amino (Mamayang).

The DoJ said the respondents-appellants’ petition for review “(assailed) the Joint Resolution issued (late last year) by the Office of the Provincial Prosecutor of Sultan Kudarat (OPP Sultan Kudarat), finding a probable cause against them for two counts of murder.”

“Finally, this Office (of the DoJ Secretary) finds it bothersome to indict respondents-appellants of the above-mentioned crimes on the basis of bare allegations, made them to suffer of the severity and ignominy of protracted prosecution, intervening detention, and potential conviction. Here, this Office has the opportunity to put an end to this travesty of justice,” Remulla wrote, as the DoJ secretary resolving the petition for review filed the respondents last April.

A case docketed XII-09-INV-21H-00422 has been filed by the OPP Sultan Kudarat on September 7, 2021 indicting the respondents in connection with the killing of a couple in Pandag, Maguindanao del Sur, where Zajid had been three-term mayor and later, a congressman for the province’s second congressional district.

Complainant Alimar Kanapia said he is one of the children of the couple Abdullah Kanapia Ligawan and Lala Ligawan who he found shot dead along the way to Pandag, near the town’s boundary with Quirino town in Sultan Kudarat, on October 7, 2010.

The DoJ secretary noted that the OPP-Sultan Kudarat failed to establish probable cause in substance, against the defendants-appellants, with evidence made “barely of allegations of two witnesses in sworn statements, and the couple’s death certificates,”

Moreover, the DoJ chief sought the plaintiff’s explanation as to why it took him ten years before he filed the complaint from an incident that took place in 2010.

Responding to the plaintiff’s accusation, Zajid in his counter-affidavit said the charges contrasted reality in his being close to his people, having been voted to office as mayor and as Maguindanao congressman. He recalled that he was even hand-picked by then President Rodrigo Duterte into the pro-administration senatorial ticket in the 2019 mid-term elections.

Also Zajid’s brother Khadafeh in his counter-affidavit stated that he had been elected for several terms as a member of the Regional Legislative Assembly (RLA) of the now defunct Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM), before being appointed by Duterte as member of the Bangsamoro Transitional Authority (BTA) Parliament in 2019.

“The Petition is impressed with merit,” read the DoJ resolution on the petition for review filed by the respondents.

Remulla wrote: “More importantly, in the appraisal of the case presented to him, the duty of the prosecutor is more to do justice and less to prosecute.”

“The determination of the existence of probable cause lies within the discretion of the prosecuting officers after conducting preliminary investigation upon complaint of an offended party. The decisions are reviewable by the Secretary of Justice who may direct the filing of the corresponding information or move for the dismissal of the case,” Remulla concluded.

The DoJ secretary also ordered the OPP Sultan Kudarat to withdraw two information filed in court for two counts of murder against respondents Zajid amd Khadafeh Mangudadatu, Usop, and Amino. .

Remulla said “in the instant case, there is no dispute that a person or persons were killed, as supported by the death certificate and police blotter.”

“However, there is a need to revisit the evidence presented by the complainant-appellee to determine the existence and non-existence of a probable cause against the respondents-appellants,” Remulla wrote.

“Eyewitness identification commendably referred to in our jurisprudence as ‘positive identification’, is the bedrock of many pronouncement of guilt, the Office (of the Secretary) cannot just ignore the fact that the Sinumpaang Salaysay (sworn statement) lacks specific details regarding the commission of the crime charged, thus, it cannot be accepted as credible, straightforward and positive,” the justice secretary said. 

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