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Petition by accused in journalist's killing denied; murder charges stand

UPDATE from CMFR: FFFJ: Corruption and the killing of journalists (8 August 2013)

(CMFR/IFEX) - 2 August 2012 - The Supreme Court (SC) of the Philippines has denied with finality a petition seeking the dismissal of the murder charges against the alleged masterminds in the killing of journalist Marlene Esperat. (The Freedom Fund for Filipino Journalists, which supports the prosecution of the case, received a notice from the Court on 1 August 2012.)

The SC's Third Division in a 25 June 2012 resolution denied the 2 April 2012 motion for reconsideration filed by alleged masterminds Osmeña Montañer and Estrella Sabay asking for the reversal of the SC's 5 March 2012 decision upholding the Court of Appeals (CA) Mindanao's junking of their petition for certiorari. It said that "No substantial arguments were raised to warrant its reconsideration."

Montañer and Sabay filed a petition for review on certiorari after the CA Mindanao station, having found them guilty of forum shopping, denied in a 19 August 2011 decision their petition for certiorari.

Their motion for reconsideration before the CA Mindanao was likewise denied on 19 January 2012.

The Court also said in the 25 June 2012 resolution that "no further pleadings or motions shall be entertained in this case."

With the accused masterminds' petition denied with finality, the prosecution is now awaiting the resolution of its second motion for the issuance of an alias warrant against Montañer and Sabay by Branch 138 of the Regional Trial Court of Makati. The Makati court had cited their motion for reconsideration as its reason in deferring resolution of the prosecution's second motion last April 2012.

According to the testimonies of witnesses, Montañer and Sabay, both of whom work at the Region XII Department of Agriculture office, ordered the killing of Sultan Kudarat-based journalist Marlene Esperat after she exposed their supposed participation in the P728 million (approx. US$17.4 million) fertilizer scam in which US aid funds for fertilizer were instead used to help finance the election of former President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo in 2004.
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