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CA affirms murder conviction of 7 alleged Abu Sayyaf Group members

MANILA, Philippines — The Court of Appeals (CA) has upheld the murder conviction of seven alleged members of the Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG) in the killing of an individual in Palawan.

In a 26-page decision dated March 20, 2024, the appellate court affirmed the conviction of Omar Jakarin Ibno, Hiya Arabain Hapipuddin, Muadzi Aisal Jala, Najer Daud, Omar Panagas, Jemar Malpa and Ibrahim Misuari in the killing of Jemar Bairulla who is reportedly a military asset.

With the conviction, the CA sentenced them to reclusion perpetua or 40 years imprisonment without possibility of parole.

The seven alleged ASG members were also ordered to pay the following:

The “monetary awards”, according to the CA, are subject to interest at the rate of six percent per annum from the finality of the decision until it is fully paid.

The appellate court’s conviction affirms the decision of the Taguig Regional Trial Court (RTC) in 2019 which also sentenced them to reclusion perpetua. 

In the 2007 information filed before the Taguig RTC, the accused allegedly assaulted, attacked and repeatedly shot Bairulla to death.

Bairulla was believed to be a military asset and when this was discovered by the group, they allegedly planned his killing. 

The seven accused denied these accusations and challenged the credibility of the government's witness, Marvin Abdulsaid Nawang, a pump boat operator hired by the group to transport the victim to an isolated location.

In the defense of the accused, they also said that they have been tortured by the authorities which prompted them to make extra-judicial confessions.

In affirming the RTC decision, the CA said that the witness is credible due to how he acted upon “observation of his demeanor, conduct and attitude” during the grueling examination of the court.

The CA also said that the investigating officer who probed the accused “have duly apprised accused-appellants of their constitutional rights to remain silent and to have competent and independent counsel of their own choice during the investigation.”

“In any event, accused-appellants failed to discharge their burden of proving that they were forced or coerced to make their respective extra-judicial