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CA affirms jail terms for Awang Airport bombers

The Court of Appeals has affirmed the decision of the Pasig City Regional Trial Court which convicted two Indonesian terrorists of murder and double attempted murder in the bombing of the Awang Airport in Barangay Awang, Datu Odin Sinsuat in Maguindanao in 2003.

Affirmed were the conviction and the life imprisonment imposed on Zulkifli Julkifli and Taufiq Rifqi.

The airport bombing on February 20, 2003 left Sgt. Nelson Corpuz dead and many others wounded. Several houses were also burned and the airport terminal building was damaged.

Investigation showed that the explosion was caused by an improvised explosive device that was placed in a white Suzuki multicab which was parked in a restaurant across the entrance gate of the airport.

Aside from Julfifli and Rifqi, two others, identified as Feliciano de los Reyes, alias “Box,” and Dinno Amor Pareja, alias “Khaleel,” were also arrested and charged before the Pasig City RTC. They were tagged as members of the Rajah Solaiman Movement.

After trial, they were convicted of murder and double attempted murder, sentenced to life imprisonment, and ordered to pay P75,000 in moral damages to Corpuz’s heirs.

On April 28, 2016, the CA upheld the conviction of Julkifli, Rifqi, Delos Reyes, and Pareja with a ruling that the “appellants were properly convicted of the complex crime of murder with double attempted murder and should thus be meted out a single penalty.”

But in a resolution issued on June 1, 2016, the CA modified its decision and held that the April 28, 2016 ruling pertained only to the appeal of Delos Reyes and Pareja. The CA said that Julfifli and Rifqi were not given adequate time to secure the services of a new lawyer after the withdrawal of their original counsel. (REY G. PANALIGAN)