Crime and Punishment: The Curious Case of Ampatuan, Jr.

While there is no doubt in anybody’s mind that the Maguindanao Massacre  was a most heinous, atrocious, unforgivable, inhuman, [sorry my adjectives are failing me right now but will add more later when I edit this post] CRIME in Philippine history, the usual penchant for theatrics we Pinoys are so famous for is beginning to annoy and irritate the hell out of me.

First, there was the Declaration of Martial Law [I agree with some bloggers, it was overkill] , which was obviously resorted to by the Palace to satisfy the public’s thirst for blood and to show that it [the Palace] is “serious” about the prosecution of the culprits.  My sympathies to the President for the usual negative reactions.  It was one of those “damned-if-you-do-damned-if-you-don’t” situations for her.  But the thing is, people wanted their pound of flesh pronto and, failing to get vindicated hours after the killings, they were hysterically shouting whitewash and justice delayed.  Understandable actually.  They were probably unfamiliar with criminal procedure or totally missed the facts there were about a hundred suspects [who could round them up in one day?], or that witnesses have yet to come forward and execute affidavits [who could do these in one day?], or that autopsies and DNA tests of more than 50 bodies  had to be had yet [who could do these in one day?]

Second, there was the hoopla about Attorney Sigfrid Fortun’s decision to be the defendants’ lawyer.  I cannot understand why  Atty. Fortun was being persecuted.  They want justice, right?   So how do they go about getting any if the accused is not provided with a lawyer or if nobody will accept the job to defend him? Well, the Constitution says he could always defend himself.  Judging from his deliberate yawning and bored expression captured on video for everyone to see, the thought [of defending himself before the court] obviously never occurred to him.

Third, the trial by publicity.  DOJ declares there is more than enough evidence to warrant probable cause.  Construed loosely, Andal Ampatuan Jr. is guilty.  General sentiment: death by firing squad ASAP.  Wonder how that would make us different from him?  People are comparing him to animals.  During the preliminary hearing, Mangundadatu accused Ampatuan of canine behavior.  If I were an animal rights activist, I would take exception to such metaphors.  Animals kill to survive, not to maintain political power.  Only humans do that.   Animals do not have evil intent nor are they capable of any. Only humans have and can.

Methinks we can help with this case better if we exercise prudence and do away with the drama.

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