GENERAL SANTOS CITY, Philippines – A regional court dismissed the double murder case against two brothers of Maguindanao Representative Esmael “Toto” Mangudadatu on Monday, December 13, because it took more than two decades for prosecutors to file it.
Mangudadatu siblings Ebrahim and Freddie were earlier ordered arrested after prosecutors linked them to the 2000 murder of their grandfather Sanday Ali and his driver in Buluan town in Maguindanao. Ali was the town’s treasurer at the time of his killing.
Judge Annabelle Piang of the Regional Trial Court Branch 15 in Cotabato City said the prescription period to file the double murder case had already lapsed, agreeing with the Mangudadatu brothers’ lawyer who cited a provision in the Revised Penal Code which states that “crimes punishable by death, reclusion perpetua or reclusion temporal shall prescribe in twenty years.”
Piang noted that the twin murders happened on February 15, 2000, yet prosecutors brought the matter to court only on September 8, 2021, or more than 20 years after the killings.
In September, Ebrahim told reporters he and his brother were baffled about an order for their arrest and blamed it on their family’s political opponents who were supposedly out to discredit them. Their congressman-brother Esmael called it “political harassment.”
Before dismissing the case, Judge Piang suspended the arrest warrant against the Mangudadatu brothers for 60 days, a court ruling that came after police failed to catch Ebrahim and Freddie in separate raids in Buluan town on November 24.
Ebrahim is a former mayor of Buluan, the capital of Maguindanao province, and his son Babydats is the town’s current mayor. Babydats’s uncle and Ali’s son, Jessieden Ali-Martinez, is challenging the mayor’s reelection bid. – Rappler.com
Rommel Rebollido is a Mindanao-based journalist and an awardee of the Aries Rufo Journalism Fellowship