MANILA, Philippines – The Integrated Bar of the Philippines (IBP) on Friday, December 20, said that the conviction of 28 people in the Ampatuan massacre case shows that due process was observed and the rule of law prevailed.
“Let the lesson be learned that though our justice system is far from perfect, there is accountability and no one is above the law,” IBP said in a statement.
Quezon City Regional Trial Court Branch 221 found the Ampatuan brothers, Datu Andal Jr and Zaldy, guilty of 57 counts of murder in the 2009 massacre that saw 58 dead, including 32 journalists. (READ: Ampatuan brothers convicted in 10-year massacre case)
The trial took 10 years, much to the agony of families left behind. (READ: TIMELINE: The long road to justice for Ampatuan massacre victims)
IBP called for reforms to improve slow judicial process. It acknowledged further that “the special attention and treatment given the cases facilitated their resolution.”
“The wheels of justice in our country however remain slow compared to other jurisdictions,” IBP said. “Delay breeds inefficiency, undue influence, corruption, and despair.”
According to the 2018 World Justice Project Rule of Law Index, Philippines is ranked No. 102 out of 113 in terms of the efficiency of its criminal justice system. (LISTEN: [PODCAST] Ano ang solusyon sa mabagal na PH justice system?)
The Philippine Development Plan (PDP) for 2017 to 2022 said that better coordination among justice agencies is the catch-all fix in “pursuing swift and fair administration of justice.” (READ: In fractured justice system, a simple solution: Let’s talk)
For IBP, the steps needed to address the problems include:
- Meaningful and comprehensive reforms toward speedy disposition of cases
- Prompt filling up of vacancies in the judiciary, public prosecution, and public attorney offices
- Magistrates at all levels responsibly meet the deadlines for resolving cases
- Better funding for the justice sector
- Filipino lawyers to avoid and call out undue delays
“We ask for the cooperation of other stakeholders,” IBP said. “Let us all resolutely work for genuine and lasting peace through timely justice.” – Rappler.com