NOVEMBER 8, 2019 – The Supreme Court has extended for one month the deadline to promulgate the 10-year-old Maguindanao massacre case, its chief justice said on Monday.
Chief Justice Diosdado Peralta said the High Court approved the request of Quezon City Regional Trial Court Judge Jocelyn Solis-Reyes for more time to resolve the case. The massacre led to the death of 58 people, including 32 journalists and media workers.
Under the court rules, the judge is given 90 days to decide after the termination of trial. The case was submitted for decision on August 22, with the victims’ families expecting an early ruling in time for the massacre’s 10th anniversary on November 23.
“We also allow meritorious motion for extension and we understand her predicament and we allowed her to have an extension of one month,” Peralta said.
The chief justice noted the court has already adopted several ways to fast-track the resolution of cases, but emphasized that the Maguindanao massacre has too many victims and 197 co-accused.
“I’m frustrated of what happened to the kin of these victims but I think Judge Solis-Reyes did her best in order the give justice to these victims and accord the accused with the required due process of law under the constitution,” he furthered.
Solis-Reyes earlier rejected the petition of accused Datu Andal “Unsay” Ampatuan to reopen the trial and suspend the promulgation of judgement.
His camp alleged one of the witnesses, Sukarno Badal, wanted to withdraw his testimony against the accused. Badal, however, denied the claim.
The massacre was considered the single deadliest recorded attack on the media worldwide and the worst election-related case of violence in Philippine history.
The victims were supposed to witness the certificate of candidacy filing for Magundanao governor of then-Buluan Vice Mayor Esmael “Toto” Mangudadatu in 2009. But they were intercepted and executed by armed men in Ampatuan town.
The Ampatuans, political rivals of the Mangudadatus, were accused of ordering the killings. (Karen Macalalad/ AAD)