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CHR laments slow pace of Maguindanao massacre case.

Commission on Human Rights (CHR) Chair Etta Rosales admitted on Wednesday that she is frustrated with the slow pace of the Maguindanao massacre case that left 58 people, including 32 media workers, dead more than four years ago.

In a TV interview, Rosales said the government should expedite the judicial process which until today has not convicted anyone out of the more than 100 accused. This is despite the new guidelines released by the Supreme Court (SC) last year to speed up the proceedings, which officially started on January 5, 2010.

Rosales said one of the remedies is to focus on the case's principal accused to save time and present conviction, a proposal which that has been suggested to Department of Justice and agreed by Justice Secretary Leila De Lima.

"What we should do is to just focus on just a few of the principals. Get the conviction. That's necessary because that will bring qualitative change," she said.

Repeating the legal process for every accused in the case makes the case longer, she said. The number of appeals and motions filed by the defense has already long delayed the proceedings. Based on the data of the Center for Media Freedom and Responsibility (CMFR), approximately 750 motions, manifestations, oppositions, and comments were filed in court in 2009 to November 2012.

Suspects in the Maguindanao massacre include at least eight members of the Ampatuan clan (primary suspects), two local government officials in Maguindanao, 70 police and military personnel, and 117 others from Ampatuan's private army and relatives. Of the total 197 individuals who allegedly conspired and participated in the massacre, only 105 have been arrested while 90 others remain at large, CMFR said.

The massacre has been considered as the single deadliest event for journalists in history according to Committee to Protect Journalists.

The new SC guidelines allow Presiding Judge Jocelyn Reyes of the Quezon City Regional Trial Court Branch 22 to resolve pending motions before her court despite appeals in higher courts. It also offer Assisting Judge "to handle the conduct of all non-trial incidents in the (Ampatuan) massacre cases, such as arraignments and pre-trials, as well as to decide incidents and motions that are not intrinsic to the merits of the cases." (Ron B. Lopez)

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Title Annotation:National
Publication:Manila Bulletin
Geographic Code:9PHIL
Date:Feb 5, 2014
Words:377
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