Ampatuan trial is now under the force of the law, not the law of force

July 3, 2011 Press Statement of NPC President Jerry S. Yap

Ampatuan trial is now

under the force of the law,

not the law of force




Thank you, Supreme Court. Now, it will be force of the law and not the law of force.

The Maguindanao massacre case is not yet won, but the decision of the Supreme Court granting the petition of the National Press Club of the Philippines to make the Quezon City Regional Trial Court Branch 221 as a “special court” exclusively for the hearing of the trial of the case has lessened the agony of the long-waiting for the next scheduled hearing.

Because of the High Court’s resolution last June 28, every weekday can now be an inspiring and struggling episode of court trial that the country will witness till it’s conclusion probably before this year ends.

This act of the Highest Court granting NPC’s petition to make the Ampatuan court a “Special Court” focused only on that case reinforced the “live” coverage of the trial beamed live on http://www.ustream.tv/channel/supreme-court-of-the-philippines.

The resolution also lessens the power of the forces working for the delay and the maneuvers the lawyers of the accused might employ, all aimed at buying time to work out the “buying out” or the “killing” of justice and to discourage the aggrieved parties from pursuing the case against the Ampatuans and their co-accused.
This will also end speculations that the families of the murdered 58 civilians, 33 of whom are journalists, are vulnerable to dropping the charges against and accept the millions of pesos being dangled to them.

Before the issuance of the resolution, the victims’ families were travelling Mindanao to Manila vice versa once or twice a month just to attend court hearings. Starting next hearing, the complainants can stay in Manila for the daily trial until the court passed its verdict, and this will definitely lessen their financial spending. They can also opt to stay where they are and watch the proceedings live on www.ustream.tv.

Because of the resolution of the High Tribunal, Judge Joceyln Solis-Reyes will now be exempt from the raffling and assignment of cases filed at the Quezon City RTC. Solis-Reyes can now definitely resolve her focus and judiciously pick the substance of testimonies before her sala.

Indeed, the justices are right in choosing the path of speedy disposition of the cases by conducting daily marathon hearings because of material factors such as the large number of the accused, victims, and witnesses involved in the trial.

Actually, this resolution is the second land mark decision won by the National Press Club of the Philippines for this Maguindanao massacre case. The first was when the Supreme Court issued a resolution two weeks ago allowing a live media broadcast of the massacre trial.

The NPC said in its petition:

“All this is due to the fact that the Ampatuan massacre is without dispute the biggest assault against press freedom that ought to be vindicated being the bedrock of democracy and civility.

“There is also a need to reestablish high respect for human rights and press freedom and this can be achieved with substantive result if the trial of this massacre of unparalleled impunity is done and completed swift enough: to serve as the strongest message for the public good, that the Philippines is also a society where the tradition is the force of the law—and not the law of force.”
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