Maguindanao massacre trial on track, says Sereno
Appealing for the public’s understanding, Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno on Thursday said the Maguindanao massacre trial was making good time, with the judiciary pulling out all the stops to ensure that the death of 58 persons nearly six years ago would receive justice.
Speaking to reporters, Sereno said the trial had been proceeding “in good time” given the magnitude of the very complex case which has 58 victims, 200 suspects—90 of them already arraigned, 57 out on bail—110 witnesses and 44 volumes of records so far.
“I’m very proud of the pace at which the Maguindanao massacre case is being handled,” she said.
“We’re just asking for a little more patience from the public. It’s hard because what happened in Maguindanao was very painful. It’s very hard to take away from people their appeal that justice be served now. But let us give it adequate time so it can’t be said that it was railroaded,” she said.
She cited the time it took for a South African court to issue a verdict in the trial of Paralympic athlete Oscar Pistorius, who was acquitted last year of murder but found guilty of the lesser charge of manslaughter for shooting to death his girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp.
“In comparison to the Pistorius case, where there was only one suspect, one body, one night and you have not too complex evidence, that took a whole year. We have a multiple of that in this case,” Sereno said.
She noted how the Supreme Court had come out with special rules to expedite the massacre trial, now undergoing bail hearings in Quezon City Regional Trial Court Branch 221 under Judge Jocelyn Solis-Reyes.
Solis-Reyes had been “relieved of all assignments” by the high court, allowing her to focus solely on the Maguindanao massacre trial. She was also given three assisting judges, a first.
The high tribunal also allowed Solis-Reyes to issue partial judgements so she could release decisions on the liability of certain accused without having to finish the presentation of evidence against all those charged.
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