SC upholds conviction of man behind 2011 car bomb blast

MANILA, Philippines – The Supreme Court (SC) has upheld a Court of Appeals (CA) decision to convict the man behind a car bomb explosion that killed two people in Sultan Kudarat in 2011.

In its 9-page resolution penned by Associate Justice Rosmari Carandang, the SC Third Division upheld the conviction of Datu Karim Masdal for the double murder of Maguindanao provincial board member Datu Russman Sinsuat Sr and Raffy Pareñas.

“In the case at bar, the circumstances surrounding the fateful day of August 15, 2011, when the explosion at Alunan Highway led to the death of Parents and BM Sinsuat, show an unbroken chain of facts which establish beyond reasonable doubt Masdal’s culpability,” the Court ruled.

The blast hit the convoy of Maguindanao Governor Esmael Mangudadatu in Tacurong City, Sultan Kudarat.

The SC gave the maximum sentence to Masdal – reclusion perpetua or up to 40 years in prison, without eligibility for parole.

In affirming the CA decision, the SC thumbed down Masdal's argument that he could not be convicted of the crime since the prosecution failed to present evidence on how the bomb was detonated.

Masdal had also claimed that he was merely handed a cellphone and ordered to send a text message once Mangudadatu’s convoy arrived, and that he only followed the instruction, fearing for his life.

The SC said the circumstances mentioned in Article 12 of the Revised Penal Code (RPC) exempting a person from criminal liability were not present in his case.

Under Article 12 of the RPC, a person is exempt from criminal liability if he acts under the compulsion of an irresistible force or under the impulse of an uncontrollable fear of equal or greater injury. While Masdal claimed he was threatened, he did not explain the extent of the threat and did not claim that he had been threatened with death if he did not do as told.

“This shows that Masdal's allegation of fear or duress is untenable. Clearly, under the circumstances, Masdal 's alleged fear, arising from the threat of Montasir, would not suffice to exempt him from incurring criminal liability,” the SC added

The Court also affirmed the appellate court’s order for Masdal to pay P300,000 in civil, moral, and exemplary damages to each of the victims' families. –