It is encouraging for the public to know that the members of the Supreme Court (SC) have finally listened to their own consciences that with regards to the infamous Maguindano massacre trial, justice delayed is justice denied.
But, if it is encouraging for the public, I believe it is more reassuring and comforting for the victim’s families that the proposed guidelines/directives submitted by the SC to Quezon City Judge Jocelyn Solis-Reyes of the Regional Trial Court Branch 221 expediting the resolution of the gruesome election-related killing of 58 people, 32 of them journalists, on November 23, 2009, will finally see the closure of the case sooner than later with the appropriate penalties meted to the culprits.
The massacre has been described as the worst case of electoral violence in recent Philippine history and is officially considered the single deadliest attack on the press ever.
It happened in the town of Ampatuan, Maguindanao province after scores of gunmen, including police, stopped a convoy on its way to file the certificate of candidacy of now provincial Governor Esmael Mangudadatu then took the passengers to a hillside where they were shot dead.
Among the principal accused are key members of the powerful Ampatuan clan, among them patriarch Andal Sr. and his sons Andal Jr., who allegedly led the gunmen who carried out the slaughter, and former Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao governor Zaldy Ampatuan.
This villainous Muslim clan simply wanted to send strong signal that they didn’t want rivals opposing their candidates in their own political domain.
Justice Secretary Leila de Lima and the public prosecutors handling the four-year-old Maguindanao massacre case welcomed the new SC guidelines/directives to speed up the trial.
“I’m sure that the SC would not have thought of coming up with those guidelines if the same would not be helpful in terms of expediting the proceedings,” De Lima said.
I hope all those concerned in the trial will strive to walk the talk the SC guidelines.
The sooner the public and more especially the grieving families of those hideously murdered will see the trial come to an end and the earlier the murderers are sent to jail, the better it will be for the country.
Then, we could all breathe a huge sigh of relief that the long wait has not been in vain and that justice has triumphed for the victims at the end and within the lifetime of the relatives.