Press Club honors panel in massacre case

THE National Press Club of the Philippines (NPC) has honored government and private lawyers who are members of the prosecution panel in the Maguindanao massacre case during the club’s 58th anniversay celebration last week.

The 12 lawyers were cited for their “praiseworthy” handling of the case. Each of them was awarded with a plaque of recognition.

Former President Fidel Ramos, Executive Secretary Paquito Ochoa Jr., Presidential Communications Group chief, Secretary Herminio Coloma, San Juan Rep. JV Ejercito and Manila Mayor Alfredo Lim witnessed the event held at the historic Bulwagang Plaridel in the NPC Building.

Jerry S. Yap, NPC president, said the honors given to the prosecutors were “a way to let them know that their efforts in delivering justice for the victims of the massacre do not go for naught.”

“This is our own little way of expressing our profound gratitude and giving them credit for what they are doing,” Yap said.

He added: “The case is very far from over and in fact is just beginning. We would like to show the justice department and the prosecution panel that we are behind them every step of the way. No matter how long it will take, we shall see victory in the end together.”

Senior deputy state prosecutor Richard Fadullon led the awardees, that included private lawyers Harry Roque and Michael Mella.

The NPC cited the group for their passionate conduct in prosecuting the masterminds and perpetrators of the Nov. 23, 2009 Ampatuan carnage “which is indispensable to the quest for justice for martyred journalists and their families thereby ensuring a safer working environment for all remaining and future mediamen.”

Apart from Fadullon, Roque and Mella, the other awardees were Asst. State Prosecutor Nestor Lazaro, Sr. Asst. State Prosecutor Leo Daceras, SASP Roseanne Balauag, SASP Emilia Victorio, SASP Juan Pedro Navera, ASP Irwin Maraya, ASP Alexander Suarez and Attys. Amanda Felipe and Karla Cabel.

Yap, however, bewailed the “non-appearance” of top Philippine National Police (PNP) officials or their representatives who were supposed to receive citations for coming up with a journalist safety handbook.

“ES Ochoa and former President Ramos arrived on very short notice. Sadly, these PNP officials were a ‘no-show’ and this incident once again placed their sincerity in question. Brownie points. That’s what they earned from this handbook,” Yap lamented.

Other NPC officials and members lashed at the “impropriety” of the PNP officers for “snubbing” the occasion.

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