EDITORIAL – Swift justice
() - November 1, 2005 - 12:00am
Now that was quick. In the annals of the Philippine judiciary, the criminal case against three men tagged in a terrorist attack in Makati was adjudicated in record time. Last Friday, the Makati regional trial court sentenced to death two Abu Sayyaf members and an Indonesian Jemaah Islamiyah militant for a bus bombing in the city that killed four people and wounded over a hundred others. The attack was staged last Feb. 14, Valentine’s Day.

Rohmat Abdurrohim is the first JI militant to be sent to death row for a terrorist attack in this country. An Abu Sayyaf member involved in the attack was allowed to turn state witness and testified that Abdurrohim had trained the two Abu Sayyaf bombers, Abu Khalil Trinidad and Gammal Baharan. The three were arrested several weeks after the bombing and subsequently tried. The testimony of the state witness, better known as Boy Negro, certainly tightened the noose around the three men and helped immensely in their prosecution for multiple murder and multiple frustrated murder. Even when there is strong material evidence and a credible witness, however, few court cases involving a capital offense are resolved in this country in just seven months, as Makati RTC Judge Marical Marissa Guillen has done. Judiciary officials should find out what went right in that courtroom to see if that pace can become the norm in the administration of justice.

The agonizingly slow pace of the administration of justice is a major cause of the erosion of public confidence in the justice system. True, the judiciary suffers from a lack of judges, but that is not the only reason for the case backlog in many courtrooms. There has to be a way of speeding up the resolution of cases, from minor infractions to capital offenses including the plunder charge against deposed President Joseph Estrada. We like to say that justice delayed is justice denied. But swift justice is so rare in this country that it is a cause for celebration when we see it happen.

ABDURROHIM ABU KHALIL TRINIDAD AND GAMMAL BAHARAN ABU SAYYAF AN ABU SAYYAF BOY NEGRO INDONESIAN JEMAAH ISLAMIYAH JUDGE MARICAL MARISSA GUILLEN LAST FRIDAY MAKATI PRESIDENT JOSEPH ESTRADA ROHMAT ABDURROHIM
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