MANILA, Philippines – The trial court judge assigned to handle the gruesome killing of 57 people in Maguindanao has delicadeza and not a greenhorn to murder cases, according to her peers.
Quezon City regional trial court Judge Jocelyn Solis-Reyes has not handled any other cases involving major controversial figures, though she has handled a slew of murder cases during her decades-long service in the judiciary.
She has served as a public attorney (1992 to 1995), then public prosecutor (1995 to 2000), and was later appointed as Presiding Judge of the Municipal Trial Court in Angeles and Olongapo cities in Pampanga in May 2001.
Three years after, she was promoted as a regional trial court judge in Quezon City.
In her current post, Reyes reportedly handles more or less 700 cases, around 400 of which are criminal in nature.
Chief of the Public Attorney Office (PAO) Persida Rueda-Acosta recalled how a case filed against her landed in the sala of Judge Reyes in 2007.
Acosta and Judge Reyes were former colleagues in the PAO.
The case was filed Atty. Terencia Ermi-Rivera two years ago. Rivera was seeking P1 million in actual and moral damages after she was allegedly unfairly removed from her post as a regional public attorney for Region VII.
Judge Reyes inhibited from the case.
Acosta remembers Reyes as hardworking. “She will take home work,” she said.
A public attorney handles 400 cases per month on an average.
What the PAO chief admired about the judge is that she has worked in the judiciary all her life, opting to become a public attorney with a P10,000-monthly salary than joining the corporate circle.
Meanwhile, Acosta said that she understands where Judge Reyes is coming from when the lady judge rejected security escorts. Reyes was to be provided with security by the Philippine National Police after the murder case against Datu Unsay Mayor Andal Ampatuan Jr. was raffled to her sala.
As public attorneys, they are more comfortable working without policemen watching their every move. “The PNP is usually visible in the courtroom only, during trial,” she explained.
But she added that she will ‘pray’ for Reyes. ‘May she have more strength,’ she said.
No one among her staff wanted to talk the magistrate who will try one of the most gruesome murder cases in recent Philippine history. “There’s a gag order here,” a personnel said.
Reyes was initially scheduled to issue a statement today, but as of posting time, nothing has been heard from the judge yet. - by Purple Romero, abs-cbnNEWS.com/Newsbreak