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CA upholds conviction for murder of 7 Abu Sayyaf members

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The Court of Appeals (CA) upheld the conviction for murder of seven members of the Abu Sayyaf terrorist group, who were behind the killing of a military asset in 2007.   

CA Associate Justice Eduardo Ramos, Jr. of the seventh division handed the ruling in a 26-page decision. He resolved that the Taguig City regional trial court (RTC) was correct in imposing the penalty of reclusion perpetua without the eligibility of parole against the accused-appellants.

The accused were identified as Omar Jakarin Ibno, Hiya Arabain Hapipuddin, Muadzi Aisal Jala, Najer M. Daud, Omar E. Panagas, Jemar Malpa, Ibrahim Misuari. They stood trial in connection with the killing of Jemar Bairulla.

But the appellate court modified the RTC decision by increasing the civil liabilities imposed against the seven terrorists from P275,000 to P350,000, representing moral, exemplary, temperate damages.

The monetary awards were subject to interest at the rate of six percent per annum from the finality of this decision until fully paid.   

“In synthesis, the Court finds that the guilt of accused-appellants has been established but modifies the penalties imposed by the RTC. The evidence of the prosecution was strong enough to overcome the constitutional presumption of innocence in their favor,” the CA ruled.

“The defense has failed to refute the prosecution’s evidence. Hence, the accused- appellants must remain in prison for the rest of their lives unless age or sincere remorse unfastens their bonds,” it said.

Based on the records, on the evening of August 12, 2007, the accused-appellants together with the victim were on board a boat going to Sarong, Bataraza, Palawan. But the group decided to make a stop at Tagbila Island.    

All the passengers of the boat disembarked except its owner, identified as Marvin Abdusaid Nawang.  

Thirty-minutes after getting off the boat, Nawang testified that he heard a gunshot and saw it came from Jakarin. Nawang also said he saw Bairulla fell on the ground after being shot.    

The accused-appellants then buried the victim’s body in the sand, but a fisherman saw it floating two days after near the shore of Puting Buhangin, Barangay Marangas, Bataraza, Palawan.  

On September 6, 2007, the military arrested and transported the accused-appellants from Puerto Princesa City to a military camp in Zamboanga City for investigation.   

During investigation, the accused-appellants denied being members of the Abu Sayyaf.   

They also denied the accusation that they conspired in killing the victim.   

They claimed that they were students at Al Farouq Institute in Siksikan, Puerto Princesa, Palawan and that they were arrested without a warrant.   

They accused the military of forcing them to place their thumbprints on a certain document and admit their participation in the killing of the victim. 


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