Justice is served, Mindanao Times publisher Jesus Dureza said, but qualifies that “the long road continues – motion for reconsideration, to Court of Appeals and the last bulwark: the Supreme Court.” As one of the key figures that worked for the surrender of the Ampatuan patriarch and his sons after the massacre, Dureza tells the families of the slain journalists, “it’s been a long struggle. The first phase is done. Just keep the faith.”
The Integrated Bar of the Philippines Davao City Chapter also lauds the verdict handed by Quezon City Regional Trial Court Branch 221 Presiding Judge Jocelyn Solis-Reyes.
“After ten long years of trial, the conviction of the principal accused in the infamous Maguindanao massacre which claimed the lives of 58 innocent civilians is a triumph of the rule of law and justice. The rule of law, in its most basic form, simply means no one is above the law. Justice had caught up on the assailants, albeit after a very long and arduous trial.
“While some may find “closure” of the case, let the same be a lesson to all. The people themselves shall take an active role in curbing all forms of criminalities and let the criminals feel the chill of fear from the people’s collective anger. In this manner those who mock the rule of law must account and face the consequences of their transgressions – no matter where and how long it takes. Justice is served.”
Carlos H. Conde of Human Rights Watch wrote that the verdict is “indeed a victory for justice. But although the principal Ampatuan suspects were convicted, more than 50 were acquitted. Also, more than 80 respondents remain at large as authorities fail to arrest them.
“The challenge now is for the authorities to arrest those suspects and bring them to justice. The families of victims and the witnesses remain at grave risk as long as these suspects are free.”
This is the beginning of another phase for the relatives of the victims and our vigilance and support is very much needed.
As former Peace Adviser Dureza said, we should all keep the faith that justice will prevail.
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