You are on page 1of 1

[A.M. No.

10-1-06-RTC : January 12, 2010]

RE: PETITION FOR CHANGE OF TRIAL VENUE OF CRIMINAL CASE NO. SA-198, PEOPLE V. DATA
ANDAL AMPATUAN, SR., ET AL. FOR REBELLION FROM THE REGIONAL TRIAL COURT OF
COTABATO CITY TO THE REGIONAL TRIAL COURT OF QUEZON CITY.

This is a resolution of the court en banc.

Facts: December 23, 2009 letter of Acting Secretary Agnes VST Devanadera, Department of Justice,
requesting for transfer of venue of Ampatuan case from Cotabato RTC to Quezon City.

Reasons:
a. The events occurring in the aftermath of the Maguindanao Massacre reinforce the notion that the
Philippines is now the most dangerous place for journalists;
b. This is considered by media organizations as a flagship case because of the interest it has generated
in the local and international press due to the perceived clout of the suspects who belong to very
influential and powerful political clans that virtually rule Maguindanao as its fiefdom;
c. Although a panel of prosecutors composed of city, provincial and state prosecutors has been formed to
prosecute this case, witnesses remain reluctant to fully disclose what they know if the case will be tried in
the very heart of the accused's territory; and
d. These factors do not instill confidence in the mind of potential witnesses, court personnel and
complainants that their security will not be compromised if trial is held in Maguindanao.

In response, Atty. Sigfrid Fortun, counsel of Ampatuan, argues that it will be practical and protective of the
accused's right to due process if venue be maintained in Mindanao for accessibility to the courts and
convenience to those charged. He thus requests that venue be maintained in Cotabato, or any other
appropriate place in Mindanao.

Issue: WoN petition for change of venue is valid.

Held: Yes. Paragraph 4, Section 5, Article VIII of the Constitution provides that the Court may order a
change of venue or place of trial to avoid a miscarriage of justice.

The purpose of the provision is to ferret out the truth from the opposing claims of the parties in a
controversy by means of a fair and impartial inquiry. Among the reasons sufficient to justify a change of
venue is the reluctance of witnesses to testify-out of fear for their personal security. Corrolarily, a hostile
sentiment against the accused at the place of the trial, giving rise to the possibility that his life could be
placed in clanger, is sufficient and justifiable cause to order a change of venue of the trial.

In view of the foregoing considerations and the proximity of Camp Crame to the Regional Trial Court of
Quezon City, the Court allows the change of venue, provided that the proceedings be conducted in an
appropriate place in Camp Crame, with adequate equipment and facilities sufficient to accommodate the
court personnel, counsels of the parties and the parties and witnesses to ensure the safety and security of
the Presiding judge, the court personnel and the parties and their counsels and witnesses.