THE Supreme Court on Thursday tapped an additional judge to assist in the speedy resolution of the the Maguindanao massacre case.
In Administrative Order No. 02-2014 signed by Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Aranal-Sereno, Virac Catan–duanes Regional Trial Court (RTC) Branch 42 presiding judge Genie Gapas-Agbada, who is also a presiding judge of RTC Quezon City Branch 100, was tasked to help QC RTC Branch 221 Judge Jocelyn Solis-Reyes, the judge who handles the case.
Sereno ordered Agbada to handle motions and pending incidents on the case, which do not dwell on the merits of the main case.
Agbada will also take care of the non-trial incidents in the case, such as arraignments and pre-trials.
“Judge Agbada is likewise authorized to use her discretion in deciding whether to resolve the aforesaid incidents and motions despite the pendency of these matters in the higher courts,” the document reads.
In addition, Agbada was asked to submit a monthly accomplishment report to Court Administrator Jose Midas Marquez.
The SC en banc has already directed Judge Reyes to allow the taking of judicial affidavits to expedite the trial of the multiple murder charges against the Ampatuan clan and their cohorts.
It will be recalled that the Maguindanao massacre involves the gruesome killing of 58 individuals, including 30 journalists, Ampatuan Town in Maguindanao on November 23, 2009.
Among the accused are former Gov. Andal Ampatuan Sr., of Ma–guindanao his son former Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao Gov. Zaldy Ampatuan and Datu Andal Ampatuan Jr.