Presidential spokesman Harry Roque said the trial might be completed in a year if the first-in-first-out system would be adopted. File

Palace hopeful Maguindanao massacre victims will get justice under Duterte
Alexis Romero ( - November 23, 2017 - 2:03pm
MANILA, Philippines — Malacañang is hopeful that the trial of the cases related to the Maguindanao massacre, the worst election-related violent incident in the country, will be finished in four years.
“The DOJ (Department of Justice) estimated that at the rate the trial is moving the case may be resolved. This is a conservative projection — well within four years or well within the term of President Rodrigo Duterte,” said Presidential Task Force on Media Security head Joel Egco.
Egco said the task force would keep a close watch on the progress of the cases.
“The good news is, after a long and tedious search for justice, we can now see the light at the end of the tunnel. That long period of uncertainty is finally over. Hoping against hope, we expect justice to be completely served for the victims and families of this most gruesome crime,” he added.
Presidential spokesman Harry Roque said the trial might be completed in a year if the first-in-first-out system would be adopted.
Under the system, the court does not have to finish the reception of all evidence against all the accused before there could be a promulgation of judgment.
“We suggested that the Supreme Court adopt the first-in-first-out (system). If it is adopted, there can be a decision against one or two of the accused within the year,” Roque said.
“Although there are 58 counts of murder, we only need one to put everyone behind bars. So for me, there is no need to wait for four years,” he added.
Roque, a former lawyer of Maguindanao massacre victims, said he would undertake steps to fast-track the resolution of the cases.

Kin of victims optimistic, too

Noemi Parcon, wife of Joel Parcon, one of the media practitioners slain during the massacre, is optimistic that the families of victims would achieve justice within Duterte’s term.
“It’s been eight years but it still hurts. Although we have moved on but the search for justice is still there,” Parcon said.
“When President Rodrigo Duterte won, we became hopeful because his campaign against drugs would really help fast-track the resolution of the cases,” she added.
Parcon claimed that the Ampatuans were under the influence of drugs when they staged the massacre.
“They were among the drug lords in our place. They produced shabu, they have shabu laboratory,” she said.
Maria Gatchalian, wife of slain reporter Santos Gatchalian Jr., said the families of victims remain determined to seek justice.
“Those who did this to my husband are not humans. It was an act of addicts, of a devil. That was my reaction when I saw his body,” Gatchalian said.
Duterte met with the families of the victims of Maguindanao massacre in Malacanang but the event was not open to the media.
A total of 22 suspects have terminated their presentation of evidence, 13 of which were submitted for decision. Fifty-eight counts of murder have been filed against 188 accused, 106 of whom are behind bars. Three have died while in jail while two are out on bail. One of the suspects has been released because of the writ of habeas corpus.

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