Rizal day bombers get life

PHILIPPINE NEWS SERVICE — Three Islamic militants were jailed for 20 years for the Rizal Day bombings in 2000 that killed 22 people and left more than 100 injured.

Manila Judge Cielito Menaro Grulla found Saifulla Yunos alias Mukhlis Yunos, Abdul Fatak Paute, and Mamasao Naga guilty of multiple murder, multiple frustrated murder, and multiple attempted murder.

They were also ordered to pay each of the families of their victims P50,000 in civil indemnity, P50,000 in moral damages, and P25,000 temperate damages. The convicts will also have to pay P25,000 to each living victim.

The first explosion occurred at Plaza Ferguson, while the second attack took place inside a coach of the Light Rail Transit in Blumentritt station, where more than 10 people were killed. A third bomb exploded in Makati City, killing a policeman.

Another bomb exploded near the Ninoy Aquino International Airport in Pasay City and the fifth ripped through a packed bus traversing EDSA in Quezon City.

A fourth alleged JI defendant, Fathur Roman Alghozi of Indonesia, later escaped from prison but was shot dead by government forces who launched a manhunt in the southern Philippines.

The court relied on the testimony of one of the victims, Anna Marie Velasquez.

Velasquez said she saw Yunos enter an LRT coach carrying a traveling bag. When he got off, the bag was no longer with him. “Padaan, bababa na ako, bumaba na kayo,” Yunos told passengers before leaving the train.

Velasquez identified Yunos from a police line-up.

“Suffice it to say that Anna Marie Velasquez was a victim herself, mother to the two other minor victims — Danna Moira Velasquez, (4), Marianne Velasquez (2) and her husband Donald, hence, her testimony should normally be accepted since such witness would usually strive to remember the faces of the assailants. Relationship with a victim would deter a witness from indiscriminately implicating anybody to the crime as the natural and usual interest would be to identify the malefactor and secure his conviction to obtain true justice,” the court said.

It said the three conspired to sow terror in Metro Manila.

“All of them performed specific acts with such closeness and coordination as to indicate an unmistakably common purpose or design to commit the crime. Thus, the act of one becomes the act of all, and each of them will thereby be deemed equally guilty of all the crimes committed,” the court said.

President Macapagal-Arroyo hailed the ruling, calling the guilty verdicts “the fruit of effective and coordinated efforts of law enforcement, prosecution and the court.”

“We will relentlessly pursue those who break the law, violate our human rights, threaten our democracy, and those committed to spreading evil, violence and fear,” Deputy Presidential Spokesperson Lorelei Fajardo said.

Fajardo said the verdict “serves to reinforce our faith in the justice system”.

She added that the government “will make sure that justice is served, that hateful ideology never triumphs, that peace loving citizens are kept safe and that democracy continues to prosper.”