THE Supreme Court on Friday granted the plea of Judge Jocelyn Solis-Reyes for another 30 days to resolve the 10-year-old Maguindanao massacre case.
In his first meet the press, newly appointed Chief Justice Diosdado Peralta cited a memorandum issued by Court Administrator Jose Midas Marquez extending the time from November 20 to December 20, 2019.
“This Office finds the ground for your request reasonable and hereby grants the same. Please be reminded however, that you are hereby granted a Non-Extendible period of 30-days from 20 November 2019 or until 20 December 2019 , within which to decide the said criminal cases,” Marquez said.
Peralta said that under the 1987 Constitution, all trial courts must rule on the case within 90 days after its submission for decision. However, Peralta said that being a former prosecutor and judge, he knew the hardships of ruling on a case and found Marquez’s decision to grant the extension reasonable.
“Under the Constitution it provides that all trial courts that means the first and second level courts should promulgate their decision within the 90-day period so there are some rules that require a shorter period to promulgate the decision. In the case of Judge Jocelyn Solis-Reyes you know very well that there are so many accused and there are so many victims in that case, but we also allow meritorious motion for extension and we understand her predicament and we allowed her to have an extension of one month. But as I said motions for extension were the exception rather than the rule and we understand her plight and I hope that she will no longer ask for another extension so that before the end of the year those cases will finally be decided,” Peralta told the media.
Peralta recalled that being a fiscal and a judge, it was the “first time” even “in the last century” that he has yet to hear cases “involving the massacre of so many people.”
“The accused are all entitled to what we call due process but we adopted several ways in order to fast track the resolution of cases. It’s good that the parties agreed to these tools that were adopted by Judge Jocelyn Solis-Reyes in order to, as early as possible, resolve the cases,” said Peralta.
Fifty-eight people, including 32 journalists, were massacred on Nov. 23, 2009 in Maguindanao. Members of the politically powerful Ampatuan clan were tagged and tried in one of the most heinous crimes in the country.