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‘Your Honor!’


dza jullie yap daza - medium rare

THERE was no Perry Mason mo­ment. But the prosecution and defense agreed on one thing, Al­leluia!, and that saved the day for Judge Jocelyn Solis Reyes, media, 400 characters packed into the courtroom to hear the verdict of the century, and the people of the Philippines.

What should have taken 43 unin­terrupted days to read, by broad­caster Peter Musngi’s reckoning, was mercifully cut down to just 30 minutes when Judge Reyes or­dered the reading of only the dis­positive portion of her decision. In its entirety, the decision is 761 pages long. But what amounts to a summary of how the judge re­solved the crimes alleged against each of the 101 accused was neat­ly broken down to 1) those guilty beyond reasonable doubt, 2) ac­cessories, 3) those released on the basis of reasonable doubt, 4) those facing warrants of arrest.

This is not a summary of the summary. But like the surviving heirs of the 58 casualties of the savage, large-scale massacre that occurred on Nov. 23, 2009, the nation awaits closure, knowing it’s not about to happen yet. The end of the trial is only the end of the first stage.

First of all, the 54 found guilty will certainly appeal their convic­tion, which means another round of legalistic agony for the survivors. With 81 accused roaming free, most likely somewhere around the Ampatuans’ fortified fiefdom, how safe are the litigants? In the words of Rep. Esmael Mangudada­tu, only 20 percent of the Ampatu­ans’ arsenal of high-powered guns and bullets have been accounted for. Additionally, the powerful clan won 25 seats in the last election.

Three leading Ampatuans and their police cohorts were sen­tenced to life terms without pa­role and ordered to indemnify the heirs, but how long will the victims’ surviving kin wait before they are paid in full? The family of Reynaldo Momay, who would have been casualty 58, have to bear a deeper tragedy. As his re­mains have not been found and until the family produce proof of death, they won’t be able to claim compensation.

Judge Jocelyn Solis-Reyes de­serves the nation’s gratitude for her dedication and deportment as a minister of the court. I won’t dare ask how much the proceed­ings cost us. All I can say is, “You’re priceless, Your Honor!”