Palace won’t pressure courts for speedy Maguindanao Massacre verdict

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The Aquino administration won’t exert pressure on the court to speed up the verdict on more than 100 suspects in the Maguindanao Massacre trial, Deputy Presidential Spokesperon Abigail Valte said Saturday.

Valte spoke as the country marked the fourth anniversary of the grisly murder of 58 people in the village of Shariff Aguak in Maguindanao.

The victims were supporters of then Maguindanao Gubernatorial candidate Esmael “Toto” Mangudadatu, and lawyers and journalists..
“We are hoping that the trial, especially in the lower court, will be faster. But it is difficult to say, ‘hey, you [the courts]should finish the trial by this time.’ We don’t want to pressure them because the court is a separate branch of government. Otherwise, we will be violating separation of powers,” Valte said.
Judge Jocelyn Solis-Reyes, who is trying the case, has indicated that the verdict on Maguindanao massacre suspects could be out by 2016, the same year that President Benigno Aquino 3rd steps down from office.
“We have to understand the complexity of the complaint. There are more than 100 suspects. As for Executive branch, the prosecutors are tasked to ensure that delays are not on our part and we will fight attempts of delays on the part of the defense,” Valte added.
Congressmen Jose Christopher Belmonte of Quezon City and Neri Colmenares and Carlos Zarate of Bayan Muna called for the expediting the prosecution of the accused in the case.
Of the 195 people accused, only 104 have been indicted, including eight members of the Ampatuan clan who witnesses claimed masterminded the killings.
“Law enforcement should facilitate the capture of those who remain at large, while the Department of Social Welfare and Development, along with other related government agencies, should provide assistance to the families of the victims,” Belmonte said in his House Resolution 520.
“Let us not forget and continue to assert the search for justice for the victims of impunity. We demand that the Aquino administration hasten the resolution of these cases and to make the perpetrators of these heinous crimes accountable to the bar of justice,” the Bayan Muna lawmakers added.
LLANESCA T. PANTI

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