Newsmen and campus journalists on Tuesday hit out at the Quezon City Regional Trial Court for the release of the key suspect in the Maguindanao massacre.
The National Press Club and the National Union of Journalists of the Philippines, along with the College Editors Group of the Philippines expressed disappointment over RTC Judge Jocelyn Solis-Reyes decision to set Sajid Islam Ampatuan free and raised fear for the course of the search for justice for the 58 massacre victims.
NPC issued a statement denouncing the rash of bail being granted by the RTC judge. “We are still trying to gather more details but if it were true that Judge Solis-Reyes again resorted to ‘legal technicalities’ to justify the granting of bail against Sajid Islam Ampatuan who admitted to being present while the details of the massacre is being discussed by his family is an indictment of our criminal justice system and a gross travesty of justice,” said NPC.
The NUJP through its national president Rowena Paraan said they were “terribly disappointed” over the release of Ampatuan, son of former Maguindanao governor Andal Ampatuan Sr.
The group criticized the “prosecution’s faulty presentation of its case,” urging Justice Secretary Leila de Lima to “get to the bottom of this and move quickly to repair the damage lest a miscarriage of justice in this case be added to the long litany of sins against press freedom and justice this administration has committed.”
CEGP composed of 750 student publications nationwide said the court’s order granting Ampatuan a bail of P200,000 each for 58 counts of murder, or a total of P11.6 million, was an insult to the kin of the victims and justice system. Judge Solis-Reyes, however, directed the Bureau of Immigration to issue a hold departure order on Ampatuan.
At least 58 people, including 32 journalists, were massacred in Maguindanao on Nov. 29, 2013 while on their way to Shariff Aguak town to file the certificate of candidacy of then Bulusan mayor Esmael Mangudadatu.