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          MANILA – The Presidential Task Force on Media Security (PTFoMS) expressed optimism on Friday that the court will rule in favor of the families of victims of the 2009 Maguindanao massacre.

          “We expect that justice will ultimately prevail for the victims and their families,” Presidential Communications Operations Office Secretary Martin Andanar, co-chairperson of the PTFoMS, said in a statement.

          Andanar’s statement came after the Supreme Court has granted the 30-day extension of the deadline requested by the Quezon City Regional Trial Court (RTC) to rule on the multiple murder case against nearly 200 individuals tagged in the massacre of 58 people in Maguindanao province in 2009.

          The High Court extended the deadline for the ruling on the cases against the accused after Quezon City RTC Branch 221 Presiding Judge Jocelyn Solis-Reyes had sought more time to look into the “voluminous records” of the cases.

          The “voluminous” records include 165 volumes of records of proceedings, 65 volumes of transcripts of stenographic notes, and eight volumes of the prosecution's documentary evidence.

          The verdict was supposed to be released on or before November 20, but the Supreme Court extended it until December 20.

          PTFoMS co-chairperson, Undersecretary Joel Egco was hopeful that the families of the victims would finally get justice, a decade after the mass murder in Maguindanao.

          “It is worth the wait. What is one month compared to 10 years? Lower courts usually go on Christmas break in mid-December. So the decision may be out by December 14,” he said.

          “Without pre-empting the outcome, I am optimistic that the families of the victims will finally get the justice that they have been waiting for the last decade,” he added.

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          Multiple murder cases were filed against Datu Andal Ampatuan, the principal accused in the case, and 196 co-accused.

          Egco attributed the impending conclusion of the Maguindanao massacre case to the Duterte administration’s “political will”.

          Andanar lauded those who worked hard in bringing closure to the “worst case of election-related violence.”

          “We cannot help but be amazed at the dedication of the men and women of the law enforcement units, prosecutors, and most especially, the Presidential Task Force on Media Security, whose passion for their work is exceeded only by their desire to see this case through its conclusion,” he said.

          “This is another addition to President Duterte’s legacy, that one of the most despicable acts against journalists in the history of the world will finally come to a close during his term,” he added.

          Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra, who also chairs the PTFoMS, earlier expressed confidence that the prosecution would secure "a just decision at least as against the principal accused”. (PNA)

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