Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Mob Justice?

Like everyone else, I want to see those responsible for the Ampatuan massacre (carried out last November 23) pay for their crimes.

I was a little confused about the public's reaction to Secretary Alberto Agra's decision to dismiss the charges against two members of the Ampatuan clan. Agra has a privileged perch--one that allows him to assess the evidence against every potential defendant in the case. How then can we object to his decision? Have we all prejudged the case and determined that the entire clan is responsible for the massacre?

There were insinuations that Agra's decision was part of a compromise to secure clan support for the administration during the May 10 elections. If true, then popular uproar would have been justified. But I saw no proof of this alleged deal.

Agra has since reversed his decision. I wonder, however, if the public will be more tolerant when courts get their turn to determine the guilt of those who are ultimately charged with the crime. Will we object if any of the defendants are found innocent? Do we find other reasons for the defendants' release other than the fact that the evidence did not prove their guilt beyond a reasonable doubt?

Should we even bother with a trial or simply lock up all the defendants now?

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