Malacanang reiterates call to fast track trial of Maguindanao massacre

November 23, 2011 10:47 pm 

MANILA, Nov. 23 — Malacañang reiterated its call on the judiciary to fast track the trial on the Maguindanao massacre case for the welfare of the victims’ relatives who are still crying for justice two years after the gruesome crime transpired.

Presidential Spokesman Edwin Lacierda issued this statement during a press briefing on Wednesday as he informed the public that President Benigno S. Aquino III remains committed on his promise to provide protection for the witnesses and the victims’ relatives.

Lacierda said the Aquino administration is doing everything in its power to serve justice for the slain victims of the massacre but recognized at the same time that the fulfillment of this particular objective does not lie entirely in the hands of Malacañang.

“We would wish that the process, the judicial process, [can] be fast-tracked. This case is not in the hands entirely of the executive branch or the prosecution,” said Lacierda as he conveyed respect for the authority of the co-equal judicial branch on this matter.

Lacierda said the prosecution which is under the executive branch through the Department of Justice “share the public’s concern” that the hearing of the Maguindanao massacre has been dragging for quite a while now and they would “hope that the judiciary would take a second look at the pace” of the trial.

“It is within the discretion of the trial judge. It is within the discretion of the judiciary. We, ourselves in the Executive branch, share the public’s concern that this case is taking so long and we would hope that the judiciary would take a second look at the pace of the Maguindanao trial so that justice may be obtained within this term, within the administration of President Aquino,” Lacierda stressed.

Lacierda added that Interior and Local Government Secretary Jesse Robredo is currently in Maguindanao to oversee the efforts being undertaken by the forces of the Philippine National Police (PNP) that are still going after suspects who remain at large.

“Patuloy po nilang hinahanap ang mga hindi pa nahuhuli pero ang mahalaga po, doon sa mga nahuli na po, lalo na sa mga principal ng kaso, ang aming pakiusap ay ituloy na rin ang kaso. Marami pong ginagawang tactics po ang mga abogado ng akusado and so understandably medyo bumabagal [ang takbo ng kaso],” he said.

President Aquino once mentioned during a forum with members of the foreign media organizations last month that the members of the prosecution panel under the DOJ “have been exercising all the necessary steps within their purview to be able to expedite the whole process.”

The Maguindanao massacre took place on November 23, 2009 when a private armed group attacked the convoy of then gubernatorial candidate Esmael Mangudadatu, leaving 58 civilians — among them 34 journalists — killed and buried in a makeshift mass grave.

Maguindanao has since been placed under State of Emergency by virtue of Proclamation No. 1946 issued by the previous president which President Aquino maintained in order to keep the entire province in tight security. (PNA)

DCT/PCOO/ssc

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