The Philippine Star – Senators call for speedy trial of Maguindanao massacre cases
MANILA, Philippines – Senators Aquilino ‘Koko’ Pimentel Jr., Loren Legarda and Ferdinand ‘Bongbong’ Marcos Jr. today appealed for the speedy resolution of the murder charges against the masterminds in the Maguindanao massacre two years ago.
Pimentel supported the reported plan of the lawyer for the victims of the massacre to ask the Quezon City Regional Trial Court (RTC) to allow the resolution of individual cases against some of the suspects so that the murder charges against them could be resolved ahead of the others.
This way, Pimentel said, the justice that the victims of the massacre have been denied in the past two years could start to be realized, beginning with the conviction of the alleged masterminds of the mass killings.
Lawyer Harry Roque, counsel for the victims of the massacre, said that he will file a motion to allow the resolution of individual cases against some of the suspects that could be resolved ahead of the others so that the victims do not have to wait for the resolution of all of the cases regarding the massacre before justice can be served to them.
With the 58 victims and almost 200 suspects in the massacre, the litigation for all the murder cases involved in the Maguindanao massacre case could take thousands of years, Roque said, citing the World Bank study that the average life span of a criminal case in the Philippines is five years.
“It would be absurd if we would have to wait for thousands of years. That would already amount to impunity. Putting priority on the conviction of the masterminds in the Maguindanao massacre case would therefore be the most logical way by which the victims could be served justice in our lifetime,” Pimentel said.
Pimentel also expressed support for the initiative of human rights advocates to declare November 23 as the International Day to End Impunity that also marks the second year of the quest for justice of the victims of the massacre.
Senator Legarda also appealed to speed up the resolution of the Maguindanao massacre cases as promised by President Benigno S. Aquino III during the election campaign period in 2010.
”It was the battle cry of President Aquino during the campaign period to give justice to the victims of Maguindanao massacre and I hope the government would speed up the resolution of the case,” Legarda said. She said every day that passes by without justice is added pain for the families of the innocent victims.
Taking clue from the quick filing of charges and the issuance of a warrant of arrest for former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, Senator Marcos believed that justice can also be served swiftly for the victims of the Maguindanao massacre.
”If we can do it against the former President, why not apply it in the Maguindanao massacre case? We should not be selective in our approach in resolving pending high-profile cases in different courts in our country,” Marcos said.
Several members of the Ampatuan clan, including former Datu Unsay Mayor Andal Ampatuan Jr., were the prime suspects in the gruesome killing of 58 victims in Maguindanao on Nov. 23, 2009. (PNA)