The court trying the Ampatuan Massacre cases has until December 20 of this year to announce whether the 197 accused for the murder of 58 victims are innocent or guilty.
In a November 7 memorandum, Supreme Court administrator Jose Midas Marquez granted Quezon City Regional Trial Court Branch 221 presiding judge Jocelyn A. Solis-Reyes until the said date to read her verdict to the accused.
The memorandum was Marquez’s reply to Solis-Reyes’ request for a 30-day extension to the original November 20 deadline.
In an October 28 letter, Judge Solis-Reyes wrote the Supreme Court administrator to request for the extension “due to the voluminous records of these cases.”
The records have reached a total of 238 volumes, broken down to 165 volumes of records of proceedings, 65 volumes of transcripts of stenographic notes and 8 volumes of prosecution’s documentary evidence, Solis-Reyes said.
Marquez replied that he found the ground for the judge’s request “reasonable.”
The high tribunal’s administrator however reminded that the 30-day extension is non-extendible.
He also directed Solis-Reyes to submit to his office a copy of the decision within 10 days from promulgation as proof of her compliance to decide the cases within the period requested.
The cases were originally due for promulgation on November 20 after the long-drawn trial was declared submitted for decision last August 22.
Previous to this, groups such as the National Union of Journalists of the Philippines (NUJP) said they hoped that the promulgation of the cases to happen before the 10th anniversary of the massacre on November 23.
The NUJP, along with other groups such as the Union of Journalists-University of the Philippines in Diliman and the College Editors’ Guild of the Philippines, have announced a series of activities commemorating the 10th anniversary of the massacre dubbed as the worst attack on journalists in history.
Of the 58 massacre victims, 32 were journalists. # (Raymund B. Villanueva)