We commend the Supreme Court for issuing new guidelines on the Ampatuan trial. These guidelines show that the Court also finds the status quo as being unacceptable. We are happy that the court granted our first in first out proposal, or that the lower court should issue partial promulgation as to some accused who have terminated with presentation of evidence without having to await termination of presentation of evidence for all theaccused. We proposed this to Judge Reyes but it was rejected. We welcome too the designation of an additional judge and the use of affidavits in lieu of direct testimony. We see these innovations as possible reasons why the trial of the case may finish within the term of P Noy.
The judiciary has done what it can do within its realm. We await the inputs from the executive on its initiatives on the prosecution of the case and the issue of compensation to the victims.
The Center for International Law (Centerlaw) represents the families of 15 of the 58 victims of the Maguindanao massacre in the ongoing criminal case. Centerlaw works closely with the government prosecution panel. Centerlaw is chaired by Atty. Harry L. Roque, Jr.
As we commemorate TODAY the third year anniversary of the ghastly Ampatuan massacre, let me reiterate my proposals to hasten the prosecution of the so-called trial of the century:
1. For Interior and Local Government Secretary Mar Roxas- Resolve with dispatch our pending administrative cases against 62 policemen who were also charged criminally for the massacre. We hope Secretary Roxas will fire all 62 of them from the service.
2. For Justice Secretary Leila De Lima- After all 62 policemen have been dismissed from the service, evaluate if these policemen should be dropped from the roster of the accused. Like a broken record, I will say it again: Even the Nuremberg Tribunal prosecuted only 14 of the highest-ranking Nazis for the worse case of genocide in this century. This is because prosecuting 196 accused, the number charged for the Ampatuan massacre, is a sure formula for impunity. This will mean that the prosecution will never end.
3. For Judge Jocelyn Solis-Reyes (covered by a pending motion)- To approve our proposed “First in –First Out” proposal where the introduction of both prosecution and defense evidence against some of the accused, i.e. Unsay Ampatuan, should be allowed.
4. For the Supreme Court, to designate a second Special Court to try the 300 or so motions filed by the parties so that Judge Solis-Reyes can proceed with just reception of evidence.
4. For the nation — Damn our country’s pillars of the criminal justice system for failing to accord justice to the victims of the massacre even after three years, and vow that this will never happen again.