MANILA – University of the Philippines (UP) law professor Harry Roque on Monday said he is keen on filing a case before the International Criminal Court (ICC) against President Benigno Aquino III over the slow resolution of the Maguindanao massacre case.
Roque said Aquino can be held responsible over the slow pace of the trial of the case, dubbed as the worst's largest-ever single attack against journalists.
He said United Nations (UN) Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Opinion and Expression David Kaye agrees with his position.
"Sumang-ayon naman po si UN Special Rapporteur Kaye na meron talagang pananagutan ang mga presidente kapag hindi naparusahan sa lalong mabilis na panahon 'yung mga pumapatay sa ating lipunan,'' Roque told dzMM.
"At ito ngang Maguindanao massacre, mas karumal-dumal ito dahil hindi lang pinaslang ang karapatang mabuhay ng mga bitkima, pinaslang din 'yung karapatan ng malayang pamamahayag."
Roque criticized the Aquino government for its supposed lack of vigor in finally bringing the case to resolution.
"Ang ehekutibo walang ginawa kundi maghugas-kamay at sasabihin nila, 'nasa korte na 'yan'... Eh hindi naman nila nalalaman na ito'y isang joint task dahil ang naglilitis naman ay ehekutibo, ang tumatanggap ng ebidensya ay ang hudikatura. Kailangan talaga nagtutulong-tulungan,'' he said.
The ICC, in which the Philippines is a state party, was "created to prosecute individuals who may commit the most serious crimes against the international community. These crimes include genocide, war crimes, crimes against humanity, and aggression," according to Roque in his website.
"The court will prosecute individuals without regard to sovereign immunity as a defense," he added.
Justice Secretary Leila de Lima earlier defended the Department of Justice prosecution team, saying that the nature of the case -- with its numerous accused and witnesses -- is a main factor in the trial's pace.
Deputy Presidential Spokesperson Abigail Valte, meanwhile, said the President stands by his position that the government is not in place to provide compensation to the families of the victims.
"I think the President has already made his position on this because, siyempre, iba po yung usapan ng government compensation. Parang ang nagiging assumption po noon is government gave, or at least, gave its blessing doon po sa nangyaring krimen at iba ho yung ganoong pag-uusap. And, I think, the President was specifically clear on his position on that," she said.
Fifty-eight people, including 32 journalists, were killed in Ampatuan town on November 23, 2009 while accompanying then gubernatorial candidate Esmael Mangudadatu on his way to his filing of certificate of candidacy.
There are 194 accused in the case, 111 of whom have been arraigned. Of the accused, 18 are surnamed Ampatuan, and 69 are police officers and soldiers.
The Supreme Court has moved to expedite the court proceedings, providing hope that a partial promulgation of judgment against some of the accused will be made before the president steps down in 2016.