Court asked to fast-track massacre case
Her eyes welling, Catherine Nuñes on Wednesday pleaded justice for her son, UNTV reporter Victor Nuñes, one of the 57 victims in the Maguindanao massacre.
“This is the third Christmas that we will be [in] tears.”
Nuñes and eight other relatives of the victims attended the trial on Wednesday at Camp Bagong Diwa in Bicutan, Taguig City, and called on the court to prioritize cases where the prosecution had already presented evidence and to rule on them.
“If we’re going to wait for decades, we would already be dead by then,” said the 50-year-old Juliet Evardo, whose son Jolito, an editor at UNTV, was also killed in the massacre.
“We don’t know but I might already die but there would still be no results,” she added.
US Ambassador Harry Thomas Jr. has called anew for the early resolution of the massacre, which a 2009 US Embassy cable released by online whistle-blower WikiLeaks said “stands out in barbarism.”
In a statement issued on the second anniversary of the brutal killing, Thomas said Washington “welcomes President Aquino’s pledge to bring the perpetrators of this heinous crime to justice.”
“The prosecution of this case is seen by many around the world as demonstrative of the Philippines’ commitment to upholding the rule of law and protecting human rights,” he noted.
Canadian Ambassador Christopher Thornley also urged the Philippine government to ensure that the prosecution of those responsible for the massacre be “completed in a timely and credible manner.”
In a statement, Thornley said Canada “stands with the Filipino people in the call for the rule of law to prevail and for those responsible to be brought to justice.”
“In remembering the victims, Canada understands that the massacre was not only an act of violence, but also an attack on the values shared by Canadians and Filipinos. Human rights, freedom of the press, freedom of expression and the right to free and fair elections are the cornerstones of our societies and must be respected and protected,” the envoy said.
Lawyer Harry Roque said he would submit a formal motion “for partial declaration of judgment” for the court to allow the defense to present evidence in cases where prosecutors had already finished presenting their case.
“This can be done in the case of (primary suspect) Andal Ampatuan Jr. because his case is already in the advanced stage. If this were done, we could have a ruling in his case in one or two years,” Roque said.
The lawyer said he had planned to raise the matter through an oral manifestation in court on Wednesday but Prosecutor Peter Medalle advised him to prepare a formal motion that would be filed in behalf of the entire prosecution team.
Justice Secretary Leila de Lima voiced her support for Roque’s proposal.
De Lima said she had ordered the panel of state prosecutors handling the multiple murder case to carefully study the suggestion.
“If the target is to immediately get a verdict on the principal accused, why not? That would be better because the people are waiting for a faster result of the trial,” De Lima said.
De Lima, however, laughed off Roque’s earlier estimate that the trial would take 55,000 years to finish as a “hyperbolic expression.”
Nuñes, who flew all the way from Cagayan de Oro to attend the hearing, said she felt drained emotionally and financially. “The last time I was able to attend the hearing was in June,” she said.
“We’re from Mindanao and we don’t have the finances to regularly attend the hearings here. We just rely on news reports,” she added. With reports from Marlon Ramos, Jaymee T. Gamil and Jerry E. Esplanada
Subscribe to INQUIRER PLUS to get access to The Philippine Daily Inquirer & other 70+ titles, share up to 5 gadgets, listen to the news, download as early as 4am & share articles on social media. Call 896 6000.