Palace hails Maguindanao massacre guilty verdict on Ampatuans
MANILA, Philippines — Malacañang lauded on Thursday the decision of the Quezon City Regional Trial Court convicting Datu Andal Ampatuan Jr. and other members of the influential clan guilty of the murder of 57 people in the Maguindanao massacre case.
“The Palace welcomes – as it respects – the decision rendered by Judge Jocelyn Solis-Reyes,” Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo said in a Palace briefing.
Panelo said “those who disagree with the judgements of the court have legal remedies at their disposal.”
The Supreme Court, he said, would ultimately render the final judgement.
“For now, what is important is that the rule of law has prevailed.”
“The Maguindanao massacre marks a dark chapter in recent Philippine history that represents merciless disregard for the sacredness of human life, as well as the violent suppression of press freedom,” he said.
“This savage affront to human rights should never have a duplication in this country’s history,” he added.
“While the promulgation of judgment on the case is done,” Panelo said “the narrative on the protection of media workers is far from over.”
“The President and the whole of government see this as a constant trial and is therefore still hard at work in building a nation where wanton acts of violence can be prevented so that any intention to threaten our democracy will not prosper even at its inception,” he said.
In a separate statement, Communications Secretary Martin Andanar said: “We predicted that this is the only way the judgment should go.”
“As I’ve said before, criminals who murder or in any way endanger journalists in this part of the world will not go unpunished. This is justice. It was admittedly a slow process but we have to go through it as warranted by our democratic system,” he added.
Undersecretary Jose Joel Sy Egco, executive director of the Presidential Task Force on Media Security, said the guilty verdict is “a cause for celebration for those who value press freedom, freedom of expression and human rights.”
Undersecretary Severo Catura, executive director of the Presidential Human Rights Committee Secretariat (PHRCS), also hailed the ruling.
“The judicial process may have taken quite some time, but justice has triumphed, with our government remaining true to its obligation to fulfil the human rights of those concerned. The mechanisms have effectively worked in the victims’ favor, and this is what human rights is all about,” Catura said.
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