News Release

Palace remembers Maguindanao Massacre, vows to end trial within Duterte’s term

Presidential Task Force on Media Security (PTFMS) executive director Joel Egco on Thursday, November 23, vows to resolve the Maguindanao Massacre within President Rodrigo Duterte’s term.

“Well within four years or well within the term of President Rodrigo Duterte based on the assumption that the offense—the defense will present an equal number of witnesses as that of the prosecution,” Egco said during a press briefing in Malacanang.

The nation on November 23 observes the Maguindanao Massacre.

Egco based his assumptions looking at a worst-case scenario of 190 to 200 witnesses to be presented by the defendants. He also underscored that 63 defense witnesses had already been presented.

He likewise said that the Task Force is pushing for four important measures: to end impunity, speedier trial, impartial judgment, and intensified manhunt for suspects who are still at large.

Meanwhile, Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque Jr. also believed the case can be concluded within four years.

“Well, ako naman po ay natalaga din bilang Presidential Adviser on Human Rights ‘no, gagawa rin po ako ng hakbang para naman masiguro na magamit ‘yung first-in first-out at tignan po natin kung either this year or early next year ay magkakaroon ng promulgation of judgment if it’s one or two of the accused,” Roque said.

Under the first-in, first-out (FIFO) method, the High Court may already render judgment on the case of any accused over whom all evidence, for and against, has already been heard.

“So hindi na po kinakailangan tapusin ang lahat ng ebidensya laban sa lahat bago magkaroon ng promulgation of judgement,” Roque explained.

‘Don’t deal with Cabinet posers’

Meanwhile, Spokesperson Roque read a Notice to the Public issued last November 21 by the Office of the Executive Secretary, warning the public to avoid dealing with unscrupulous individuals posing as Cabinet members to solicit funds.

“(P)lease be warned that the Office of the President or the Office of the Executive Secretary has not authorized any person to solicit money or other things of value from the public for the alleged benefit of Marawi soldiers, senior citizens, illegal drug campaign, or for any other cause,” Roque read.

On UN Special Rapporteur Dr Agnes Callamard

In the same press briefing, the President’s spokesperson reiterated the Palace position regarding United Nations Special Rapporteur Dr. Agnes Callamard who visited the country earlier this year to attend a drug policy conference.

Roque said President Duterte expressed his displeasure at Callamard who came to the Philippines despite an official invitation was still underway for the special rapporteur.

“So what she did to come here despite the fact that negotiation was still pending was an act of bad faith, and, of course, what angered the President in particular is on her visit here, she brought a resource person who the President believes stated that prohibited drugs are not harmful to human health,” the Spokesperson explained.

In addition, Roque said that Callamard made her comments on a matter that should be investigated first, which in effect has rendered her preconceived conclusions about the issue of alleged killings on the drug war.

‘Act of one is act of all’

Roque further said, the President’s statement pertaining to the possible arrest of members of communist legal fronts, even if they are a non-armed component of the communist group due to conspiracy.

“You can now be prosecuted, for acts, overt acts constituting rebellion, also for violation of the Human Security Act, where the taking up of arms is intended for the purpose of inflicting fear or terror in the minds of the general public,” Roque said.

Conspiracy, he added, is a sufficient basis to be accused of committing both a crime of rebellion and acts of terrorism because in a conspiracy “the act of one is the act of all”. ###PCO-Content