QC judge accepts late court filing of Ampatuan Jr. in Maguindanao Massacre case

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A Quezon City court has accepted the late filing of Datu Andal Ampatuan Jr.'s memorandum to the Maguindanao Massacre trial just weeks ahead of the deadline given by the Supreme Court to decide on the decade-old case.

Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, November 27) — A Quezon City court has accepted Datu Andal "Unsay" Ampatuan Jr.'s memorandum to the Maguindanao Massacre case despite being filed months after trial ended.

In a two-page order, Quezon City Regional Trial Court Branch 221 Presiding Judge Jocelyn Solis-Reyes said she will admit the memorandum of the accused filed by the camp of Ampatuan, who is the principal suspect in the 10-year-old multiple murder case that claimed 58 lives.

The filing of a memorandum is standard practice, where both the accused and the prosecution wrap up the facts of the case and the arguments and salient points of the trial that ensued.

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State lawyers opposed the motion of the Ampatuan camp, saying it was "clearly filed out of time" and that he "consciously refused" to file the memorandum. The prosecutors also saw the belated submission as a delaying tactic for the court's decision.

The motion to admit the memorandum was filed October 25. Trial has been closed since August.

Solis-Reyes agreed that the memorandum was filed out of time, but still decided to accept the document as part of the case records.

"As no prejudice will be caused to anyone with the admission of the memoranudm, in the higher interest of justice, the court hereby resolves to grant the relief being prayed for in the motion," the judge said in the November 26 order.

However, the court also gave the prosecution the option to reply to Ampatuan's memorandum within five days after receiving a copy of the document.

"Further, it is understood that the filing thereof shall not interrupt the period to decide," the judge added. The Supreme Court gave Solis-Reyes until December 20 to render a decision on the Maguindanao Massacre case — a non-extendible deadline.

Ampatuan was mayor of Datu Unsay town when he and his family's private armed group allegedly shot and decapitated the victims' bodies with chainsaws, which include those of civilians and members of the Mangudadatu family, their rival political family, on November 23, 2009.

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Earlier this month, the judge denied the request of Ampatuan to reopen the trial as he claimed that a witness will retract his testimony.

A total of 104 individuals faced trial, including Ampatuan's brother, former Autonomous Region for Muslim Mindanao Governor Zaldy Ampatuan. Their father, Andal Ampatuan, Sr., was also a primary suspect before he died in 2015 due to complications from liver cancer.

The Maguindanao Massacre has been tagged as the world's deadliest single attack against media workers, and the worst case of election-related violence in the Philippines.

CNN Philippines Correspondent Anjo Alimario contributed to this report.