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The Verdict: The Presidential Massacre Case

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Pekweng
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Founded: Mar 31, 2013
Democratic Socialists

The Verdict: The Presidential Massacre Case

Postby Pekweng » Fri Aug 07, 2020 5:06 am

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Mary Grace Gonzales (@MaryGraceSTN)
7 August 2020 8:06 PM (PST) | Katherinia, PEKWENG




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The scene during the search operation at the massacre site at a hillside in Brgy. Consolacion, Fortran, Texico last January 7, 2002.
Photo courtesy of STN New Media Archives.

KATHERINIA, Pekweng- Due to the ongoing crisis by the COVID-19 pandemic, the future of almost 277 accused personalities at the January 7, 2002 Presidential Massacre will be handed down by Presiding Judge Cecilia de Guzman of the Katherinia Regional Trial Court Branch 137 will be made public at January 7, 2021 at the Annex Building of Camp Andres Nazancieno in Medalle, Katherinia on the anniversary of the massacre.

In a resolution by the Supreme Court, the promulgation shall observe some regulations in the case at bar. Atty. Clarence Gonzaga, Supreme Court spokesperson, laid the rules on governing the case.

The promulgation will be set on January 7, 2021 or at any later date after the pandemic to ensure the safety of all. The government TV station, NPTV, shall be the official news outlet for this case. All media organizations, including foreign media agencies, may hook-up to NPTV’s coverage. Further rules on the live streaming will be announced in the coming months.

The Court also made an announcement that the case will be in pending judgement due to the COVID-19 pandemic. All courts nationwide are in lockdown as precautionary measure.

The incident was recorded as the worst presidential security failure, worst political massacre, massive rubout of uniformed personnel and worst killing of journalists. The whole world will be watching the most awaited verdict which will be one of the most historical and landmark events in Pekweng, ending almost 20 years of waiting. This verdict will set the tone to the whole Pekwengnian government, justice system and democracy.

The following posts will tackle on the events of the massacre and the important moments on the most high-profile case.



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Last edited by Pekweng on Sat Aug 08, 2020 2:23 am, edited 2 times in total.

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Pekweng
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Democratic Socialists

The Massacre

Postby Pekweng » Fri Aug 07, 2020 5:06 am

On December 19, 2001, then President Diosdado Mallari ordered a ceasefire between the government troops and the rebels as part of the ongoing peace process in southern Pekweng. Mariano Katigbak, the founder of the Communist Party of Pekweng, insisted that they will fight against the government. The CPP is very notorious in orchestrating violence in Pekweng as they pursue armed revolution to install a totalitarian rule of communism in the country and led a series of uprisings against the government. Five days later, the rebels executed a plan on assasinating the President and his convoy ahead of a Special Joint Session of Congress which will happen on January 7, 2002. The special session will feature the President's formal offer to the rebels the creation of an autonomous region for the Bandamoro people and a continued effort of peace negotiations. After the meeting, the rebels prepared by stashing weapons and ammunitions, as well as killing policemen and stealing patrol vehicles. A few days before the new year, few people are spotted around the Batasang Pambansa Complex, wearing hooded jackets and shades, somewhat looking over the surrounding roads.

There were three key meetings leading to the event: the first on New Year's Eve at Brgy. Lonto, Malanding Norte, in Baoayan province, the command center of the northern faction of the CPP. The second one was held at their headquarters at Brgy. Sawiyao, Carrano, Tiwi Province on January 3, and the last is a hotel near Congressional Avenue in Katherinia, a few blocks away from the Batasan. On the midnight of January 5, rebels practiced their positions along the convoy route and marked their places. The eve before the special session, Katigbak convened a special meeting of top leaders of the communist group and planned the assasiation of the President. The Armed Forces of Pekweng and the Pekwengnian National Police joined together with the Presidential Security Group to tighten the security of the presidential convoy after intelligence reports that the CCP has launched an attempt to kill the President. President Mallari ordered a special holiday on January 7 over the country as this will be a significant moment in Pekwengnian history and a landmark point in peace negotiations.

On 8:00 in the morning, both the Senate and House of Representatives organized and prepared for the special session. Around 9:35 in the morning, the presidential convoy left Manrique Palace bound for the Batasang Pambansa. On 10:12, the rebels went to their places and waited for Katigbak's signal. He was in the hotel near Congressional Road, watching the convoy as it passes through his window. At around 10:37, shots were fired in the convoy, the motorcade stopped and 86 personnel from the PSG, AFP and PNP went out to their vehicles and firing back to the rebels. But, they were instantly killed by the communists. After killing the soldiers and police, they ran to the motorcade and killed every one onboard. The motorcade includes the President and the First Family, seven members of the Cabinet, 45 members of the Presidential Press Corps, 10 drivers with three students and a passerby got killed also.

After the killings, more members of the CPP went out and dragged the dead bodies out of the vehicles and took into a dump truck. They also put the vehicles on fire and dumped the bodies on a hillside in Brgy. Consolacion, Fortran, Texico. While the killings were happening, Congress did not know what is going on. The supposed start of the special session on in the morning was not followed. The news broke out on 11:09 when the Chief of Staff of the AFP, General Gerardo Mendez Jr. announced the incident that killed everyone, including the President. The news was met with sadness, anger, despair and fury among those in the Batasan, as well as the whole Pekweng and the international community. The special session was diverted its original business and called to order at 11:45 am to invite the Vice President, Conchita del Rosario, to assume the Presidency. At high noon, Chief Justice Roman Guttierez administered the oath to the new President. Appearing to a joint session, she made her first speech on the horrors of the incident and bared the real intention of the CCP to overthrow the government.

Also during the incident, protesters in front of the Batasan wept over the killing of the President and joined with the nation in toppling communism, especially the arrest of Katigbak and other CPP officials. Religious leaders condemned the incident, quoting "the most horrible attack to our democracy and freedom" and offered prayers to the victims. A few hours after the session, she made her way to Manrique Palace and took possession of the residence. She also issued General Order No. 1, placing the entire nation under martial law and suspended the privilege of the writ of habeas corpus on account of rebellion and sedition by the CPP. The said issuance was applauded by the public by providing safeguards on human rights, the suspension of the writ affecting only members of the CPP and the continuity of the Constitution.

A national day of mourning was also declared by the President and ordered all national flags in half-mast. Other countries also done the half-mast in honor of the killed President and foreign dignitaries went to Pekweng to grieve with the Pekwengnians. The bodies of those killed were laid to rest in the Kalayaan Hall of the presidential palace. People lined up the Manrique Palace to pay their last respects to the late President and to others who were murdered.

Nine days later, the bodies were processed to the Bayanihan Plaza for the State Funeral. Escorted with the military officers, the coffins were paraded along the roads and flocks of people from different parts of the country took part in the event. Cardinal Gregorio Sales, then Archbishop of Katherinia, led the Requiem Mass for the killed. All archbishops, bishops, and priests from different parts of the country were present with some bishops from other countries also joining the mass.

The day after the declaration was announced, the military and police made mass arrests on communist rebels around the country. During the martial law, 277 members were arrested and put to New Garcia Prison Maximum Security Compound for detention, but many policemen were killed during the course of the arrest. On March 31, 2002, the declaration was lapsed and she issued General Order No. 45 ending the martial rule, but the President wanted to extend the declaration since the communist leaders are hiding in different parts of the country. Mariano Katigbak fled abroad and exiled. He was extradited on April 1 after he was arrested while caught in attending an overseas meeting. He was sent to Camp Andres Ballano for detention. Even the martial law ended, there are still suspects at large.
Last edited by Pekweng on Fri Aug 07, 2020 5:13 am, edited 2 times in total.

"Maka-Diyos, Maka-Kalikasan, Makatao, Maka-Bansa"~ National Motto
"Tapang at Malasakit"~ President Rodrigo Salvador Santillan


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Pekweng
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Democratic Socialists

The Trial

Postby Pekweng » Fri Aug 07, 2020 5:07 am

On April 2, 2002, Solicitor General Calvin Jimenez filed 155 counts of murder, 289 counts of rebellion and sedition, 163 counts of inciting to war, 70 charges of assault against persons in authority and 87 counts of provoking civil war and disloyalty were charged against Mariano Katigbak and the members of the CPP. They filed the charges in Katherinia RTC, accompanied by the relatives of the President, families of other victims and private complainants.

On April 10, 2002, the case was initially raffled to Judge Antonino Sanchez of Branch 65, but he inhibited from the case citing threats to his safety and of the family. The next day, he was shot by unknown gunman, allegedly committed by the CPP, which the latter denied the claim.

The case was re-raffled and went to Presiding Judge Cecilia de Guzman of the Branch 137 and immediately accepted the case. She even withdrew police security, citing her as "The Brave Female Justice" at that time.

Katigbak and other leaders were arraigned on April 21 and pleaded not guilty on all charges. The prosecution panel, led by the Solicitor General, presented the evidences connecting the communist leaders to the killings. This meant that the prosecution had to prove that, not only did he kill the victims, but that he did it in such a way as to ensure impunity.

The elements of murder include treachery and the use of superior strength. The prosecution also alleged conspiracy, which meant that each of the accused may be accountable for the violence committed by the others: the conspiracy if proven would make the crime of one the crime of all.

Four suspects turned state witnesses were the key figures in order to shed light in the massacre. Colonel Alvin Masicat, a communist surrenderee and then police chief of Carrano, personally knew the planning of the killings. He testified before the court that some people reported a meeting that was seen as dangerous by CCP, the first of the three meetings. When he arrived on site, he heard clearly the words of Mariano Katigbak:

"Ayusin natin ang plano para patayin si Presidente. Kapag nagawa natin yun, susugurin natin ang Manrique at tayo na ang mamumuno."
(We must carefully plan this to kill the President. If we did that, we will storm (the) Manrique (Palace) and we will now rule (the country).)

When he rushed to arrest them, they immediately brought their guns and shoot at the policemen, which the latter fired back. He returned to the vehicle and rushed back together with wounded personnel. He also said that he cannot arrest them because they are so powerful enough that the police.

Fabian Mallari, also a former rebel, participated in all of the meetings leading up to the killings. He testified that Mallari and other leaders were insisting that plan. He also said that Katigbak repeatedly stated his intention to overthrow the government. He heard these words, which he claimed as the "true mission of the Communist Party of Pekweng":

"Kapag nagawa natin ang pagpatay sa gobyerno, matutupad na natin ang matagal nang mithiin ng organisasyong ito, ang pabagsakin ang bansa."
(If we done the killing of the government, we will achieve the ultimate goal of the group, (that is) the toppling down of the nation.)

He also recalled that he voluntarily surrendered to the authorities after the meetings and handing over some important documents that will be vital to the case, especially the maps detailing the plan.

Buenaventura Galeano, a close confidant of Mariano Katigbak, knew the detailed plan of the massacre. He was present on the day of the killings and narrated the events first-hand.

He said that on the early hours of January 7, he and Katigbak were going on a hotel near the Congressional Road and lodged on a room adjacent to the road. Katigbak was in Room 103 while he was on Room 106. After confirming the news that the rebels are ready, he was commanded by him to deploy the conspirators by radio patch on 10:12 am:

"Pumuwesto na kayo ngayon dyan. Doon sa hindi makikita. Hintayin ang hudyat ni Pinuno."
(Get into your positions now. Place to those cannot be visible. Wait for Leader's signal.)

At 10:36, Katigbak ordered the shots. He then radioed the men on ground:

"Dale na. Paputukan na ninyo sila."
(Game on. Fire the shots to them.)

Then, minutes later, he then said to them:

"I-finish na ninyo yang mga pulis at PSG. Isunod na ninyo ang mga sakay, at barilin isa-isa."
(Finish those policemen and PSG. Then, follow those on board and shoot them individually.)

He received a call from the ground:

"May mga media dito. Lagot tayo."
(There's media in here. We're screwed.)

He radioed Katigbak and the latter answered:

"Anak ng p***! Barilin na ninyo lahat! Walang awa, pati media."
(Son of a b****! Shoot them all! Show no mercy (to them), especially media.)

Even at cries for help and mercy, the gunmen shot all of them, even shooting three students and a passerby who was not part of the convoy. After shooting them, he radioed again:

"Magtawag kayo ng mga kasama dyan. Itambak na ninyo sila sa trak at dalhin sa may bundok. Sunugin pati sasakyan nila."
(Call other members there. Dump their bodies in the truck and bring them to a hill. Burn also their vehicles.)

There were three dump trucks who placed the dead bodies and went to Brgy. Consolacion, Fortran, Texico where there is a hillside. The presidential convoy was put in flames and series of blasts were occured. The military personnel rushed to the area but they were too late. Firefighters also went to the site and put out the fire. The trucks went to the expressway and proceeded swiftly to the site.

Teodoro Galvan Jr., a backhoe operator, was called by Katigbak to bury the killed persons. He heard Katigbak's voice:

"Punta ka na sa backhoe at ilibing mo na sila. Bilisan mo na at parating na mga sundalo. Kung hindi, ikaw ang susunod."
(Go to the backhoe and bury them (to the pit). Hurry and the troops are coming. If you didn't, you'll be next.)

He then proceeded to the backhoe and started burying the dead. After 45 minutes, he got off and ran away while the troops from the 47th Infantry Battalion received a report that the bodies of the presidential convoy was being buried in Texico.

The prosecution said that the massacre was carefully planned by the top leaders of the Communist Party in order to seize the opportunity to overthow the government once and for all, after so many attempts.

Katigbak's lawyer's says otherwise because the alleged claims by the prosecution were merely propaganda and there are no such evidence linking him and the killings. A memorandum filed by defense lawyers claimed that neither the bullets nor the guns used in the massacre were presented in court, nor were “trace evidence” such as fingerprints, footprints, gunshot residue or DNA, that would have corroborated the testimonies of the prosecution witnesses.

The constitutional presumption of innocence sets a high bar for the prosecution. The burden is on the accuser to prove the charges, not for the accused to prove his innocence. It is this bar that the defense invoked: the prosecution, it said, has not presented enough evidence to prove that Datu Unsay committed the crime beyond reasonable doubt.

The prosecution, on the other hand, says that the eyewitnesses they presented — who told the court they heard the massacre planned, saw Katigbak ordered the killings and doctors who testified that the victims died of gunshot wounds, are enough to convict.

The hearings were held thrice a week and some days were filled with immense tension and pressure from both sides. In order to expedite the case, the Supreme Court ordered that Judge de Guzman to focus solely on the case and her court, Katherinia RTC Branch 137 be classified as a special court. Another move was also made when it mandated the judicial affidavit rule, lawyers will submit affidavits with questions and answers that witnesses have supplied while under oath. To give opposing counsel sufficient review time, the affidavits must be submitted at least five days prior to a preliminary conference in a case or the hearing of motions. In trial, attorneys cross-examine witnesses based on the already submitted affidavits.

Those actions by the high tribunal made the case at high speed. But this was marred by deaths and disappearances of some witnesses, escapes of some suspects and lenghthy bail petitions for the accused.

On February 17, 2020, Judge Cecilia de Guzman submitted the case for decision but she asked an extension to review some important issues and voluminous records. With the unprecedented COVID-19 pandemic came in, the Supreme Court suspended the deadline of extension and set the promulgation of the verdict to be held next year, when things become normal and the pandemic is over.

The documents of the case includes:

3,728 volumes of records on the trial;
509 records of stenographic notes; and
67 records of the prosecution’s documentary evidence.

The court received the testimony of 569 witnesses:

370 prosecution witnesses;
79 defense witnesses; and
120 private complainants.

Mariano Katigbak and other leaders and members of the Communist Party of Pekweng are charged with the following:

155 counts of murder;
289 counts of rebellion and sedition;
163 counts of inciting to war;
70 charges of assault against persons in authority; and
87 counts of provoking civil war and disloyalty.

There are almost 350 other suspects remain at large.

National and international media has worked hard to keep the case alive on the news agenda.

Various media groups have joined their advocacies, administering funds for humanitarian assistance for families of the victims and scholarships for the orphans.

Foreign governments also watched the progress of the case and helped the Pekwengnian government to fast track the proceedings. Heads of state and government also hope for the conviction of those accused.

On his first days in office, President Santillan vowed to resolve the case in the soonest time. Justice Secretary Juliano Guerrero said that those communist rebels will held accountable for the worst sin of Pekweng.

There are too many stories stained by blood and too many perpetrators of such violence are not even taken to courts.

It is therefore important to hear the decision on this case next year.

The lessons of the trial belong to the people so these can empower them to end impunity, to change the culture of politics and course of the national history, government, justice system and democracy of Pekweng.
Last edited by Pekweng on Sat Aug 08, 2020 2:24 am, edited 5 times in total.

"Maka-Diyos, Maka-Kalikasan, Makatao, Maka-Bansa"~ National Motto
"Tapang at Malasakit"~ President Rodrigo Salvador Santillan


The 1st World Summit of Leaders
Creating Connections, Building Bridges: Guiding the Way into the 21st Century
MEMBER NATION/HOST COUNTRY
The 2nd World Summit of Leaders
"Partnering for Change, Engaging the World"
MEMBER NATION~HOST COUNTRY


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