‘Fiscals delayed massacre trial 114 times’

First published in The Philippine Star, 29 March 2014

The defense panel in the Maguindanao massacre trial has accused prosecutors of delaying court proceedings, citing 114 instances when they moved for early suspension or cancellation of scheduled proceedings.

In a 12-page counter-manifestation released yesterday, lawyer Philip Sigfrid Fortun – representing members of the Andal Ampatuan Sr. and his sons Andal Jr. and Zaldy – dubbed as inaccurate the prosecution’s claim that they were unfairly accused of delaying the proceedings.

“The prosecution’s current posture in disavowing fault for the delay in the completion of trial in these cases four years after they started their presentation is unacceptable,” said Fortun in the March 20 document submitted to the court.

He noted that since the start of the trial, there were 114 instances when the panel moved for continuance, had no witnesses to present, or had no substitute witnesses for those who could not be presented.

The lawyer also noted instances when the panel moved for the suspension due to miscommunication with their own witnesses or failure to comply with agreements with the defense on submission of documents to be identified by their witnesses.

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Unedited feature: UP opens exhibit of Yolanda survivors

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Edited story published in The Philippine Star, 23 March 2014

When Super Typhoon Yolanda struck Eastern Visayas in Nov. 8 last year, 18-year old Ernest Reyes Dimakiling was with his family in Palo, Leyte, trying to brace the door of their house and stop it from being blown away by the wind.

For Dimakiling, the door was their primary defense that held their shelter against the rage of the super typhoon. Without it, he said, they would not survive the calamity.

The concept of shelter has gone a long way for Dimakiling, a Biology student who was among the 200 students of the University of the Philippines (UP) in Tacloban who cross-registered to the university’s flagship campus in Diliman, Quezon City this semester.

Last week, the UP College of Arts and Letters (CAL) launched an exhibit of the works of 20 students affected – physically, psychologically and emotionally – of the typhoon.

Some of the participants, like Dimakiling, were in Eastern Visayas when Yolanda struck. Others were in UP Diliman when it happened, but were nonetheless affected as their families are back in the affected areas.

The exhibit, titled Bakawan (Mangrove), contains the output of the series of writing, dance and drawing psychosocial workshops conducted by various experts in the past several weeks. Read more of this post