The Department of Justice (DOJ) is doing its best to hasten the prosecution of former Maguindanao mayor Andal “Datu Unsay” Ampatuan Jr., and other accused in the 2009 Maguindanao massacre, Malacañang said on Thursday.
Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo made this remark as relatives of 58 people who died in one of the most gruesome killings in the country continue to seek for the conviction of Ampatuan and other accused, nine years after the massacre took place.
“The DOJ is the one responsible for prosecuting the case and so it is doing its job; it’s best to speed up the prosecution of the case,” Panelo said in a Palace briefing.
Panelo said that the resolution of the case will still depend on how quickly the prosecutors act on the case.
“The courts will always rule on the basis of evidence – that has been the rule and that has been the training of all lawyers,” Panelo said.
Panelo acknowledged that the justice system in the country is slow but stressed that the case will eventually be resolved.
“We’re not surprised that the wheels of justice in this country grind so slow. Many cases take so long, but what is important to us is justice will prevail,” Panelo said.
“Rule of law will have to be observed regardless of who are the persons are involved in any particular case,” he added.
Earlier, President Rodrigo R. Duterte gave a marching order to speed up the prosecution of the suspects and to have convictions possibly within this year.
Amid media reports saying that some witnesses have recanted their testimonies against Ampatuan, Malacañang assured that the case against him remains strong.
On Nov. 23, 2009, a total of 58 people, 32 of whom were members of the press, were killed in a massacre described as the deadliest attack on journalists in history.
The Ampatuan clan has been accused of masterminding the massacre to derail the political plans of rival and incumbent Maguindanao governor Esmael Mangudadatu for the 2010 elections. (PNA)