Cops acquitted in Maguindanao massacre case may not regain old jobs, back wages

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Former Gov. Toto Mangudadatu flashes the victory sign following the guilty verdict Thursday of the Ampatuans. (Photo courtesy by ABS-CBN) 

MANILA, Philippines — First, the good news: They are free men now as their names were on the list of those acquitted.

Now the bad news: Some of the police officers implicated — and now acquitted — in the Maguindanao massacre case may not be able to regain their previous jobs.

Aside from that, all of them can never claim back wages under the “no work, no pay principle,” a ranking Department of the Interior and Local Government official said Friday, 20 December 2019.

“We will evaluate them if they are still physically fit to perform and return to the police service including medical and neuro exams,” Interior Secretary Eduardo Año said adding “the policemen implicated in the crime cannot get their back pay because of the no work, no pay principle.”

On Thursday’s promulgation of the Maguindanao massacre case Quezon City Regional Trial Court Branch 221 Judge Jocelyn Solis-Reyes acquitted the so-called members of the Labayan group identified as SPO1 Elizer Rendaje, SPO1 Alimola Gulanaton, SPO1 Samad Maguindra, PO3 Ricky Balanueco, PO3 Gibrael Alano, PO2 Rexson Gulama, PO1 Amir Solaiman, PO1 Badjun Panegas, PO1 Pendatun Dima, PO1 Ebara Bebot, PO1 Tamano Hadi, PO1 Michael Macarangon and the Solano group members which include SPO1 Ali Solano, PO3 Felix Daquillos, PO2 Kendatu Rakim, PO1Abdulraman Batarasa, PO1 Marjul Julkadi, PO1 Datu Jerry Uto, PO1 Mohammad Balading, PO1 Marsman Nilong, PO1 Ysmael Baraquir, PO1 Abdulmanan Saavedra, and PO1 Jimmy Kadtong.

Also acquitted of the charges were PO1 Sandy Sabang, P/Insp. Bahnarin Kamaong, P/Supt. Abdulwahid Pedtucasan, PO1 Ahmad Camsa Badal, PO2 Tanny Dalgan, PO1 Anwar Masukat, PO1 Adbullah Baguadatu, PO1 Oscar Donato, and PO1 Michael Madsig.

They were acquitted because Judge Solis-Reyes explained the prosecution failed to prove their guilt.

The court immediately ordered the release of the police who were acquitted unless they are being detained for other offenses.

The Ampatuan case dragged on for 10 long years after that fateful November 23, 2009, gruesome mass slaughter of 58 individuals including 32 members of the working media.

The QC RTC found eight members of the Ampatuan clan and 20 others guilty for 57 counts of murder and meted them with the penalty of reclusion Perpetua (up to 40 years imprisonment) without parole.

Solis-Reyes also ordered the accused to pay damages totaling to PHP130 million.

“This is the strongest message that crime does not pay. Finally, justice is rendered. This is also a stern warning to criminals and a reminder to everyone to abide by the laws. The conviction of the Ampatuans and their cohorts prove that the justice system is working,” Año said.

Meanwhile, Philippine National Police Officer-in-Charge, Lt. Gen. Archie Francisco Gamboa directed the Criminal Investigation and Detection Group (CIDG), Intelligence Group and the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM) police to launch massive manhunt operations for the 80 fugitives, including accused dismissed police Inspector Michael Joy Ines Macaraeg who did not appear during the promulgation of the decision the Philippine News Agency said.

The court issued an arrest warrant against him.

“Considering the nature of their crime and their continued flight from justice, we presume these fugitives to be armed and dangerous,” Gamboa said.

A total of 101 individuals faced the trial out of the initial 197 who were originally included in the indictment. Meanwhile, 117 were arrested while 80 remain at large. (IAMIGO/CNS)

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