Palace says rule of law prevailed over Maguindanao massacre case
Malacanang said on Thursday that the rule of law has prevailed following the promulgation of the Maguindanao massacre case.
In a press briefing, Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo said that the Palace respects the decision rendered by Judge Jocelyn Solis-Reyes of Branch 221 of the Regional Trial Court of Quezon City on the case of 58 individuals, 32 of whom were members of the media, who were massacred in Ampatuan, Maguindanao on Nov. 23, 2009.
"The court has spoken and rendered its decision based on evidence presented by both the prosecution and the defense. There were verdicts of guilty and of acquittal. It behooves the parties to respect them," he said.
He acknowledged that there were those who would view the judgment as justice having prevailed while others would have contrary views.
Panelo, who is also the chief presidential legal counsel, said those who disagree with the judgments of the court have legal remedies under their disposal and the Supreme Court would have the final say on the case.
However, he said, "for now, what is important is that the rule of law has prevailed."
Solis-Reyes found guilty beyond reasonable doubt 28 accused, including some members of the powerful Ampatuan clan, and sentenced them to suffer reclusion perpetua or up to 40 years of imprisonment without parole.
Fifteen other people, 14 of them policemen, were also sentenced to suffer indeterminate penalty of imprisonment of six years of prision correccional as minimum to 10 years and eight months of prision mayor as maximum for being accessories to the gruesome killings.
The judge, however, acquitted 53 other accused "on ground of reasonable doubt" and three other policemen were also acquitted as evidence of the prosecution has "absolutely failed to prove their guilt."
Panelo said the Palace commends the executive officials who were involved in the case as prosecutors or who were "heavily interested in its outcome as protectors of press freedom and human rights for ensuring that the propriety and the integrity of the proceedings were upheld."
"The Maguindanao Massacre marks a dark chapter in recent Philippine history that represents merciless disregard for the sacredness of human life as well as the violent suppression of press freedom. This savage affront to human rights should never have a duplication in this country’s history," he said.
Meanwhile, Panelo, during the press briefing, said he was not sure if President Rodrigo Duterte was able to monitor the promulgation of the Maguindanao massacre case.
"I haven't talked to him. I don't know if he is already awake by that time because that is his sleeping time," he said.
He noted that Duterte had attended to three events, which finished past midnight on Thursday.
"Last night, we were so late again. He was so tired. I've notices him he was very tired because there were three events, we finished again past midnight," he said. Celerina Monte/DMS