Ampatuans, et al ordered to pay heirs of 57 victims a total of PhP 155.5-M

DAVAO CITY (MindaNews / 21 December) — The regional trial court that found Datu Andal “Unsay” Ampatuan, his brothers Zaldy and Anwar and 25 other principals guilty beyond reasonable doubt in the November 23, 2009 Ampatuan Massacre ordered them to pay the heirs of 57 victims a total of 155.5 million pesos for civil indemnity; moral, exemplary, temperate and actual damages; and loss of earning capacity.

“All the principal accused are likewise ordered to pay the following heirs jointly and severally,” Judge Jocelyn Solis-Reyes of the Regional Trial Court Branch 221 in Quezon City, said in her 761-page decision.

The amounts vary, with 300,000 pesos as the lowest and 23.56 million pesos as the highest.

All 57, according to the ruling, will receive 350,000 pesos each for civil indemnity (100,000 pesos), moral damages (100,000), exemplary (100,000). Most were given temperate damages of 50,000 as their claimed actual damages were not accepted for lack of receipts and other evidence. The total amounts for each victim vary due to actual damages and loss of earning capacity.

If all 28 principals were to equally divide the total amount of 155,524, 215 pesos that they have been ordered to pay to the heirs of the 57 victims, that would be 5,554,436.25 million pesos each. The wealthiest among the 28 who were convicted and sentenced to reclusion perpetua without parole are Andal Ampatuan, Jr., and Zaldy Ampatuan.

Bodies exhumed from the mass graves at the massacre site in Sitio Masalay, Barangay Salman in Ampatuan, Maguindanao in this photo taken on 25 Novmber 2009. The remains of Reynaldo Momay, photographer at the Midland Review in Tacurong City, were never found, but for his dentures at the massacre site. MindaNews photo by FROILAN GALLARDO

The court cited Article 100 of the Revised Penal Code which states that “every person criminally liable for a felony is also civilly liable” and that Section 1 of Rule 111 of the Revised Rules of Criminal Procedure provides that when a criminal action is instituted, the civil action for the recovery of civil liability arising from the offense charged shall be deemed instituted with the criminal action unless the offended party waives the civil action, reserves the right to institute it separately or institutes the civil action prior to the criminal action.

In the case of People of the Philippines versus Andal Ampatuan, Jr., et al, the court said “it appears that no reservation was made by the prosecution before it presented evidence, to institute the civil action separately from the criminal action.”

“Neither was a civil action filed prior to the criminal action. This being the case, the civil action is deemed instituted with the criminal action,” the court added.

The amounts to be paid to the heirs, based on the listing in the decision promulgated on December 19, 2019, are listed here by MindaNews in alphabetical order, for easier reading.

Sabdullah’s name was not included in the summarized listing on pages 751 to 760 but her heirs are to be awarded, according to the narrative on page 750, in the amount of 350,000 pesos.

Atty. Nena Santos, whose clients include Sabdullah’s family, told MindaNews “the body of the decision prevails.”

She said she would “file a motion for clarificatory judgment.”

The court dismissed the claim for damages of the heirs of the 58th victim, Midland Review photographer Reynaldo “Bebot” Momay murder because “the court is convinced that the prosecution was not able to sufficiently establish the death of victim Reynaldo Momay. Hence, the court cannot grant any damages to his heirs.”

Judging on the criminal aspect, the court said that “whether Momay died or was missing” after November 23, 2009 “could not be ascertained as no evidence of his actual death was adduced.”

“He has no cadaver and neither was his death certificate presented on record,” the court said.

Momay’s daughter, Reynafe Castillo, a nurse now based in the United States, said they would file a motion for reconsideration of the ruling. Castillo has repeatedly said she is not after any monetary consideration. “All I want is justice for my dad.”

The 28-year old Cadagdagon, photographer and driver of Saksi Mindanaoan News was granted the biggest amount even as his mother could not say how much he was earning from Saksi and no evidence was presented on his earnings as such. The court based its computation on the earnings of Cadagdagon in his trucking business which at that time was 1,000,893.60 for nine months.

The court cited the formula for computing loss of earning capacity from the landmark case of Villa Rey Transit vs Court of Appeals where net earning capacity = life expectancy x (Gross Annual Income less necessary living expenses). The formula for life expectancy is 2/3 x (80 – age of the deceased at the time of death).

The Ampatuans’ lawyers have manifested they would file a motion for reconsideration of the ruling. If denied, their other recourse is to  go to the Court of Appeals and later the Supreme Court.

Fifty eight persons were killed, 32 of them from the media, when a convoy of vehicles led by Bai Genalin Mangudadatu, wife of then Buluan Vice Mayor Esmael ‘Toto’ Mangudadatu, on their way to Shariff Aguak town to file Mangudadatu’s certificate of candidacy for governor of Maguindanao, was stopped by about a hundred armed men led by Andal Ampatuan, Jr., and were ordered at gunpoint to turn left to a hilltop in Sitio Masalay, Barangay Salman in Ampatuan, town where they were massacred, some of them buried, along with three vehicles, using a backhoe of the provincial government of Maguindanao.

Photo of the massacre site with the abandoned backhoe at Sitio Masalay, Barangay Salman in Ampatuan, Maguindanao afternoon of 23 November 2009. Photo from the briefing of the 601st Infantry Brigade to Defense Secretary Norberto Gonzales on 24 November 2009.

The backhoe operator was not able to finish burying the dead and the vehicles as troops had started arriving and a helicopter with Mayor Jong Mangudatu flew to the crime scene. Five vehicles of the convoy were found where they were parked, with some of the bodies of the victims still inside the vehicles.

Ridao, who drove his Tamaraw FX, and the Lechonsito couple, Delos Reyes and the Palabricas who were in the red Toyota Vios, were not part of the convoy of Mangudadatu relatives, lawyers and media but just happened to pass by at the wrong time, on their way to Cotabato City.

Minus Momay which the court excluded as among the victims of the Ampatuan Massacre, the media in the convoy were Adolfo of Gold Star Daily, Koronadal City; Araneta of DZRH, General Santos City; Arriola of UNTV, General Santos City; Bataluna of Gold Star Daily, Koronadal; Betia of Periodico Ini, General Santos City; Cabillo of Midland Review, Tacurong City; Cablitas of News Focus and DXDX, General Santos City; Cachuela of Punto News, Koronadal City; Cadagdagon of Saksi News, General Santos City; Caniban of Periodico Ini, General Santos City; Dalmacio of Socsargen News, General Santos City; Decina of Periodico Ini, General Santos City; Dela Cruz of Saksi News, General Santos City; Duhay of Gold Star Daily, Tacurong City; Evardo of UNTV General Santos City; Gatchalian of DXGO, Davao City; Legarte of Prontiera News, Koronadal City; Lupogan of Mindanao Daily Gazette, Davao City; Maravilla of Bombo Radyo, Koronadal City; Merisco of Periodico Ini, Koronadal City; Montaño of Saksi News, General Santos City; Morales of News Focus, General Santos City; Nuñez, of UNTV, General Santos City; Perante, Gold Star Daily correspondent, Koronadal City; Parcon of Prontiera News, Koronadal City; Razon of Periodico Ini, General Santos City; Reblando of Manila Bulletin, General Santos City; Salaysay of Mindanao Gazette, Cotabato City; Subang of Socsargen Today, General Santos City; Teodoro of Central Mindanao Inquirer, Tacurong City; and Tiamson, Daniel of UNTV, General Santos City.

The rest of the victims were from the camp of the Mangudadatus. (Carolyn O. Arguillas / MindaNews)

READ: Decision on People of the Philippines versus Datu Andal ‘Unsay’ Ampatuan, Jr., et al