Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Philippine Justice is a Bit on the Slow Side

A common complaint of many Americans (including me) is the slowness of the justice system. When Americans come to the Philippines, however, they realize that the system at home is absolutely zippy by comparison.

You may or may not have read about a case a few years ago in which 58 people were massacred in Mindanao – they were members of one of the local political clans and journalists who were killed (apparently) by one of the other clans.
The Maguindanao massacre, also known as the Ampatuan massacre after the town where the mass graves were found, occurred on the morning of November 23, 2009, in the town of Ampatuan in Maguindanao province, on the island of Mindanao in the Philippines. While the victims were on their way to file a certificate of candidacy for Esmael Mangudadatu, vice mayor of Buluan town, they were kidnapped and brutally killed. Mangudadatu was challenging Datu Unsay mayor Andal Ampatuan, Jr., son of the incumbent Maguindanao governor Andal Ampatuan, Sr., in the forthcoming Maguindanao governatorial election, part of the national elections in 2010. The 58 people killed included Mangudadatu's wife, his two sisters, journalists, lawyers, aides, and motorists who were witnesses or were mistakenly identified as part of the convoy.
Well, the government is pledging that it may be resolved (at least partially) sometime in the next few years.
The government is aiming to speed up convictions in the country's worst political massacre to ensure justice amid fears the trial could drag on for years, the country's top justice official said. 
Justice Secretary Leila de Lima said the government wants judgments against the Ampatuan clan, accused of being behind the murder of 58 people in 2009. 
"The marching orders of the president is that during his term up to 2016, there's got to be convictions," de Lima told AFP in an interview. 
She concedes it may be impossible to convict all the suspects but hopes they can at least get the "principal accused". 
So they are really pushing to convict at least some of the killers in just seven years? I guess they could have set the bar a little lower if they really tried: “We hope to have it resolved in this millennium, but if not then surely the next.”

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