THE Department of Justice under the incoming administration of President-elect Rodrigo Duterte will speed up the resolution of the criminal charges against those responsible for the deaths of 44 Special Action Force Commandos in Mamasapano, Maguindanao in January last year, an official said Wednesday.
The accused in the deadly encounter are 90 commanders and members of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front, Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters and private armed groups.
Incoming Justice Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre II said he was disappointed at the delays in the resolution of the charges that the National Bureau of Investigation filed against the accused.
He said he knew the case by heart because he had been a lawyer of former SAF chief director Getulio Napeñas.
“Charges were filed against Napeñas but the culprits who killed the SAF [commandos] are still roaming free,” Aguirre said.
Napeñas was indicted for neglect of duty along with dismissed Philippine National Police chief Alan Purisima.
Last week, outgoing Justice Secretary Emmanuel Caparas said there were “certain sensitivities” being considered in the case.
“It is hard to commit [when the case will be resolved],” Caparas said.
“There are certain sensitivities that we are trying to protect. We want to do what is best for everybody as much as possible,” he said without elaborating.
The Justice Department concluded its preliminary investigation in January but has not released a resolution.
Caparas had said the resolution would be released in February, but after a month he said there would be a slight delay and that the resolution would be issued in March.
Last month, when asked for an update on the case, Caparas said: “Let’s not talk about that, please.”
Caparas earlier claimed that the Justice Department had done its part to speed up the resolution of the case despite the fact that the preliminary investigation took almost one year to complete and only four of the 90 respondents were able to answer the charges.
Caparas said they were aware of the cry for justice of the families of the slain SAF men.
They respondents are accused of acting “in conspiracy with one another to attack, employ force, seriously intimidate or resist the SAF commandos who were uniformed police officers and thus persons in authority.”
The fact-finding team of prosecutors and National Bureau of Investigation agents based the report on the accounts of eyewitnesses who identified the liable MILF and BIFF commanders and have been placed under a witness protection program.
The viral videos of the encounter that circulated in social media sites also helped in the investigation and their sources have been traced.
But based on the results of the probe, the killings of the SAF commandos appeared to be “spontaneous and not an institutional act of the MILF.”
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