Will Maguindanao massacre also wait 27 years for resolution? he asks
MANILA - Relief and alarm were the two reactions of former Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque when he heard of the graft conviction handed to former First Lady Imelda Marcos, he said Monday.
He said he was relieved that "at least there’s a historical pronouncement that certain crimes were committed during the Marcos administration," but he was also alarmed that it took 27 years before a court convicted a member of the family.
"It’s unfair both to the complainant, the people of the Philippines, and the accused to stand trial for 27 years given the constitutional precept that people have the right to speedy trial. It shows that we have a very serious problem with our legal system," he told ANC's Headstart.
"You cannot call yourself a civilized society and have to wait 27 years before a decision is rendered by the court," he said.
As the country remembers the 9 years since Maguindanao massacre, where dozens were killed, including several members of the media, Roque, whose law firm represent some of the victims, said the time for prosecution should be shortened.
"Are we saying it will take the same period of time, 27 years, before we can get a conviction? It cannot be," he said.
Roque, who is running for the Senate, said the solution is to return to the "inquisitorial system," where the judges gather evidence to be able to resolve the controversy "at the soonest time possible."
Mrs. Marcos, widow of late dictator Ferdinand Marcos, was found guilty of 7 counts of graft for funneling public funds to overseas bank accounts.
The Sandiganbayan sentenced her to imprisonment of 6 years and 1 month to 11 years for each of the count, but she was able to post bail on Friday while awaiting the court's decision on her motion for leave of court to explore post-conviction remedies.
'CORDIAL RELATIONSHIP' WITH IMEE
Roque said while he stands firm on his belief that there were wrongs in the Marcos administration, he can share the stage with the late strongman's daughter, Imee Marcos, who is also seeking a Senate seat.
"I have a very good cordial relation, friendly relations with Marcos. It does not affect my conviction that there were malfeasance and misfeasance committed during the term of her father," he said.
"I can stand on the same stage, but I do so with conviction that number 1, I should not condemn anyone for the association—she’s the daughter, and she was not too old at that time; she was already an adult, but for most of the atrocities, I don’t think you can attribute it to her," he added.
Roque lobbied for the law awarding reparation to victims of human rights violations during the Marcos years, he confirmed during the interview.