The guilty verdict against key suspects in the Maguindanao massacre case handed down on Thursday showed that the justice system in the Philippines is working, an official of the Presidential Human Rights Committee Secretariat (PHRCS) said.
“The judicial process may have taken quite some time, but justice has triumphed, with our government, under the Duterte administration, remaining true to its obligation to fulfill the human rights of those concerned,” Undersecretary Severo Catura, PHRCS executive director, said in a statement sent to the Philippine News Agency (PNA).
“The mechanisms have effectively worked in the victims’ favor, and this is what human rights is all about,” he added.
Catura said the Maguindanao massacre case has defined the human rights situation in the Philippines and even allowed detractors to accuse the government as a purveyor of impunity.
“That is farthest from the truth. The dictum that every person who is charged with a crime is deemed innocent until proven guilty remains an anchor of the Philippine justice system. And we’re talking of more than a hundred people indicted in this gruesome incident,” he said.
”What seems to be disregarded is the fact that the government has upheld everyone’s right to a fair and public hearing,” he added.
Catura said the conviction of 43 personalities can be considered “a milestone in human rights history in the Philippines”.
“Some 28, including members of the powerful Ampatuan family, were declared guilty beyond reasonable doubt and sentenced to life imprisonment. On the other hand, 15 were sentenced to six to 10 years and eight months in prison as accessories to the crime,” he said.
“Not since the post-world war Nuremberg trials of 1945-49, which saw the conviction of 18 war criminals, has the world seen this large number of persons convicted by a single court. Even the much-vaunted International Criminal Court, in all its 17 years in existence and after having spent more than a billion dollars, has only convicted four personalities,” he added.
Catura also lauded Quezon City Judge Jocelyn Solis-Reyes who took on the case. (PNA)