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Opinion

EDITORIAL - Need for speed

The Philippine Star

After six years, the National Police Commission has ordered the dismissal of 21 policemen implicated in the gruesome massacre of 58 people in Maguindanao. Of the 62 policemen in the administrative case, 11 were suspended, 21 were cleared while nine had the complaint dismissed for lack of jurisdiction by the Napolcom.

Those who were found liable and penalized can still seek reconsideration from the Napolcom, so this case can drag on. Relatives of the massacre victims can only hope that it won’t take another six years before the Napolcom decides on motions for reconsideration.

The relatives will probably welcome any penalty imposed on those linked to the massacre of 58 people, 32 of them journalists, in Maguindanao in November 2009. The wait for justice has been long in the criminal cases filed in court or undergoing preliminary investigation by government prosecutors against those accused of responsibility for the nation’s worst case of election violence.

About 100 people led by members of the Ampatuan clan are on trial for the mass murder. Up to 200 other people suspected of involvement remain at large. Clan patriarch Andal Ampatuan Sr. died of liver cancer in a private hospital last July, but his sons Andal Jr. and Zaldy, both principal defendants, remain in detention without bail.

Last August, Chief Justice Ma. Lourdes Sereno described the trial as “excruciatingly slow” and raised hopes for a verdict by yearend. Her words aptly describe the Philippine criminal justice system.

President Aquino has promised that there would be convictions before he steps down at the end of June next year, but he has no control over the judicial system. Where he wields control is over the Napolcom, which is chaired ex officio by the secretary of the interior and local government.

Sixty-two members of the Philippine National Police were implicated in the massacre, either for directly participating in the killing or for providing a security cordon around the crime site in Barangay Salman in Ampatuan town.

The atrocious crime can earn those responsible multiple life terms without parole, so the defendants are expected to fight the charges, which can make the court case move even slower than usual. But administrative complaints need not move as slowly as criminal cases.

AMPATUAN

ANDAL AMPATUAN SR.

ANDAL JR. AND ZALDY

BARANGAY SALMAN

CHIEF JUSTICE MA

LAST AUGUST

LOURDES SERENO

MAGUINDANAO

NAPOLCOM

NATIONAL POLICE COMMISSION

PHILIPPINE NATIONAL POLICE

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