Palace sees "serious flaws" in justice system after verdict on Maguindanao massacre case
Malacañang has cited “serious flaws” in the country’s justice system due to the “injustice” against the 56 acquitted suspects in the Maguindanao massacre case.
“While the rule of law has prevailed following yesterday's promulgation by the trial court on the case of the Maguindanao massacre, the Palace notes that there are serious flaws in our justice system long existing and must be rectified, if we are to be fealty to the rule of law and due process as enshrined in our Constitution,” Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo said on Saturday.
Panelo, who is also the chief presidential legal counsel, noted that the lives of those 56 individuals who were acquitted from what could be considered as the worst case of election-related violence, have been wasted.
"An analysis of the court’s judgment showed that 10 years of what could have been productive lives of the 56 acquitted accused have been wasted in incarceration, and necessarily their families have since become dysfunctional, with their wives and their children bearing the brunt of the stigma and the humiliation that come with it, scarring them for the rest of their lives,” he said.
“This is an injustice that cannot be countenanced nor continue. It must not find print ever again in the pages of our history as a nation,” he added.
Panelo blamed the filing of charges before the court against the accused even if the evidence presented before the investigating public prosecutor could not sustain a conviction of an accused of a crime to be proven beyond a reasonable doubt as the "major cause of aberration."
“The hasty and heedless filing of an information is due either to the faulty appreciation of evidence by - or the fear of - the investigating prosecutor to be subjected to an administrative sanction or get a reprisal from the complainant if the case is dismissed at the preliminary investigation stage,” he said.
“The resultant tragedy is the deprivation of the liberty of the persons adjudged as innocent by the court, as what happened yesterday. It is not an isolated case, there are hundreds of similar pending cases obtaining in other courts,” he added.
Last Thursday, a total of 28 suspects, including five of the Ampatuan clan members, were sentenced to reclusion perpetua without parole by Judge Jocelyn Solis-Reyes of the Regional Trial Court of Quezon City.
Reyes also acquitted 56 suspects including Andal Jr's brother-in-law and former acting Maguindanao Vice Governor Datu Akmad "Tato" Ampatuan; his brother Datu Sajid Islam Ampatuan and several policemen.
Panelo said “the blindfolded Lady Justice symbolizes an impartial proceeding without regard to the social and political status of those haled before the mighty and unforgiving arm of the law, uninfluenced by the torrent of adverse people’s judgment.”
“The government, forever unaffected and unmoved by the infectious winds of public opinion, must pursue and protect this ideal,” he said.
“Aside from throwing away productive years of those accused who were pronounced not guilty, government resources, including man-hours and effort, have gone to waste. This is one lesson we must all learn lest we repeat the same grievous error at the cost of liberty and honor of the innocents,” he added. Robina Asido/DMS