SC appoints 3rd assisting judge in Maguindanao massacre case

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Thursday, January 16, 2014

CHIEF Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno issued an order on Wednesday assigning a judge from Catanduanes to help speed up the resolution of motions and facilitate processes not related to the merits of the Maguindanao massacre case.

Judge Genie Gapas-Agbada of the Virac Regional Trial Court branch 42 was tasked by the Supreme Court (SC) to handle with "deliberate dispatch" the conduct of non-trial incidents such as arraignments and pre-trials, as well as to decide other incidents and motions that will not affect the merits of the cases.

Agbada was also allowed to resolve the motions despite the pendency of some of these matters in the Court of Appeals and the SC.

The Court left to Quezon City Regional Trial Court (RTC) branch 221 Judge Jocelyn Solis-Reyes to determine which incidents will be resolved by Agbada, who is required to submit a progress report to the Office of the Court Administrator-Court Management Office on or before the 10th day of the month.

Agbada's new assignment is on top of her current duties as presiding judge of Virac court and acting judge of the Quezon City RTC branch 100, the order stated.

The designation of a third assisting judge was one of the measures taken by the SC in response to public exasperation over the slow pace of the four-year trial.

The Aquino administration has since promised to secure justice for the relatives of the 58 victims, who were killed on November 23,2009 by the private army linked to Andal Ampatuan Jr., the opponent for Maguindanao governor by then Buluan Vice Mayor Esmael Mangudadatu in the May 2010 elections.

Of the 194 suspects expected to face trial, records show 106 had been arrested while 88 remain at large.

Ampatuan denied masterminding the killings. (Sunnex)

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