crimes in the Philippines

CA upholds life sentences of 7 Abu Sayyaf members in 2007 Palawan murder

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CA upholds life sentences of 7 Abu Sayyaf members in 2007 Palawan murder

The appellate court modifies Taguig court's ruling, increases convicts' civil liabilities

MANILA, Philippines – The Court of Appeals (CA) has upheld the decision of a regional court that convicted seven members of the dreaded Abu Sayyaf and sentenced them to spend the rest of their life in prison for the murder of a military informer nearly 17 years ago.

The appellate court, however, modified the ruling of the Regional Trial Court in Taguig, increasing the civil liabilities of the convicts.

The seven men – Omar Jakarin Ibno, Hiya Arabain Hapipuddin, Muadzi Aisal Jala, Najer M. Daud, Omar E. Panagas, Jemar Malpa, and Ibrahim Misuari – were found guilty for the 2007 murder of military informer Jemar Bairulla.

The incident happened on August 12, 2007, when a group shot Bairulla dead during a boat trip to Sarong, Bataraza, Palawan. 

Court records showed that they tried to cover up the murder by burying the body in sand, but a fisherman found the corpse two days later. 

On September 6, 2007, the suspects were arrested in Puerto Princesa, Palawan, and taken to a military camp in Zamboanga City for questioning. There, they denied being part of the Abu Sayyaf group and said they had no role in Bairulla’s death. They also claimed to be students and said they were arrested illegally, accusing the military of forcing them to confess.

The CA, however, rejected the group’s assertions as it upheld their murder convictions and their reclusion perpetua sentences, without  parole.

In a 26-page decision penned by Associate Justice Eduardo Ramos Jr., the CA’s 7th Division confirmed the earlier decision of the Taguig cour as it revised the lower court’s order on civil damages. From P275,000, they were ordered to P350,000 in damages, which includes moral, exemplary, and temperate damages, with a 6% annual interest from the judgment’s finalization until full payment.

The appellate court stated, “The evidence of the prosecution was strong enough to overcome the constitutional presumption of innocence in their favor…. 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.” –

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