Lawyer: Justice for Maguindanao victims now possible under Aquino

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Wednesday, December 11, 2013

VICTIMS of the gruesome Maguindanao massacre may secure justice in the remaining two and half years of the Aquino administration due to the Supreme Court guidelines aimed at expediting the trial, a lawyer said Wednesday.

Lawyer Harry Roque, who represents some of the relatives of 58 victims, said the guidelines show that "the Court also finds the status quo as being unacceptable." The trial has been criticized for its slow pace.

The SC allowed Judge Jocelyn Solis-Reyes of the Quezon City Regional Trial Court branch 221 to issue partial promulgation in relation to some accused without having to wait for the termination of presentation of evidence of all the witnesses.

A third assisting judge will be designated to resolve motions not related to the merits of the case despite pendency of some of it before the Court of Appeals or the SC. The High Court also allowed the use of affidavits in place of direct testimony.

"We see these innovations as possible reasons why the trial of the case may finish within the term of PNoy (Aquino)," said Roque, who earlier estimated that the case may be over in the lower court in 16 years.

Roque, however, said they are still waiting for the inputs from the Executive department on its initiatives on the prosecution of the case and the issue of compensation to the victims.

Last month, families of victims asked the United Nations to compel the government to give compensation and ensure the delivery of justice.

Justice Secretary Leila de Lima also welcomed the development, saying the SC would not have thought of coming up with those guidelines if these would not be helpful in expediting the proceedings.

"Like in any other criminal case, the Executive acts thru the prosecutors and the prosecutors handling the Maguindanao massacre case have been doing their job diligently and are not at all engaging in dilatory maneuvers. The prosecutorial interest and goal is to secure convictions without delays," she said.

De Lima said she will take up the guidelines with the panel of prosecutors handling the multiple murder cases once she receives a copy. (Sunnex)

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