Lady Judge bravely convicts the Ampatuans
After many years of abusively reigning like untouchable sacred cows in the province of Maguindanao, the Ampatuan clan’s stupidity finally ended. It took a lady to stop a perceived strong and barbaric regime.
Quezon City Regional Trial Court Judge Jocelyn Solis-Reyes convicted the main accused and several others in so called Maguindanao massacre. The incident killed 58 people including 32 journalists in November 2009.
Yesterday, December 19, 2019, the court finally rendered the decision after 10 long years of trial. The duration of the trial was justified as there are almost 200 accused in the case. Each of them invoked their rights to cross examine every witness presented by the prosecution.
Datu Andal Unsay Ampatuan Jr., Zaldy Ampatuan, Anwar Amapatuan Sr. and several others were convicted in the multiple murder case. Their other brother however, Datu Sajid Islam Ampatuan, who is reportedly back in power in their place ,was acquitted together with other accused. I will just reserve my comments as to those acquitted until after I finish reading the 761-page decision.
The Amapatuans who are convicted as principal are meted with the penalty of reclusion perpetua or 40 years in jail without the benefit of parole. They were also ordered to pay damages to the victims’ families.
The decision is something that will tell the Filipino people that justice can still be served in this country. It is a point for the judiciary that makes people believe in the justice system in the country.
The decision was followed not only by the Filipino people but the whole world as there were 32 journalists who were killed in just one setting. It was described as the deadliest attack on journalists worldwide and the bloodiest massacre in the Philippine history. In fact, such incident portrayed the country as a dangerous place for journalist, even more dangerous than Iraq.
Hence, there were valid reasons for the previous judge to inhibit from handling the case as the Ampatuan clout reached Metro Manila despite the transfer of venue of the trial from Magunindanao to Quezon City. Judge Luisito Cortez justified that he and his family received countless death threats when he handled the case.
Of course, who is not afraid of the Ampatuans? Imagine this: they could afford to kill their fellow Muslim believers! They could afford to rape and murder their fellow Muslim ladies, which is totally contrary to their doctrines, and could afford to kill innocent journalists who had nothing to do with their politics.
But a lady judge showed her courage in handling the case. I would like to commend Judge Reyes for bravely rendering a decision against the so called untouchable clans. We need workers like her in the judiciary: brave and principled.
Considering that the decision was still in the RTC level, the accused, who have all the resources for court battle, can still elevate their cases to the Court of Appeals and all the way to the Supreme Court. This means that we still need to be vigilant in following the updates of the said case.
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