Judge Jocelyn Solis-Reyes may have to bow out of the Maguindanao massacre case should she be picked as replacement for either a retiring Court of Appeals (CA) or Sandiganbayan associate justice.
Reyes, Quezon City Regional Trial Court (RTC) Branch 221 judge, is one of the applicants for the associate justice post at the CA, which will be vacated on Dec. 1 upon the compulsory retirement of Agnes R. Carpio. She is also being considered for the post of Sandiganbayan Associate Justice, with the retirement of Napoleon Inoturan and expected retirement of Jose R. Hernandez on Nov. 22.
Aside from Reyes, other aspirants are fellow Quezon City RTC Judge Angelene Mary V. Quimpo-Sale, Makati RTC Judge Selma P. Alaras and Pasay City RTC Judge Eugenio de la Cruz.
Last year, Reyes also applied and was short-listed for a CA post.
Supreme Court Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno last year said she already appealed to Reyes to stay with the case.
“Sabi ko sa kanya, ‘Judge, ‘wag kang bibitiw. Please, huwag’ (I said to her, ‘Judge, please stay with the case.’),” Sereno told reporters last year but said she could not blame the judge.
Family under watch
“Her family is under watch. She has guards, even her children. It is not an easy life. So, when you come face to face with a human being…telling you, ‘Chief, wala na ba akong karapatang ma-promote man lang?’ Ang hirap sagutin nun, ‘no (Chief, don’t I have the right to be promoted? It’s difficult to answer),” Sereno said.
In her heart, she said she wanted the Maguindanao massacre case resolved expeditiously but she also has to be fair to Reyes.
Before Reyes, the case was raffled off to several judges but they inhibited from the case.
To date, the Maguindanao massacre cases account for 58 victims and 195 accused, with 112 already arraigned.
The trials are actively attended by 12 prosecutors who comprise the third panel of public prosecutors, seven private prosecutors and 27 defense lawyers.
The transcripts of stenographic notes have reached 52 volumes, while the records of the cases are 114 thick volumes.
The high court has also issued special trial guidelines to fast-track reception of evidence while hearings are continuous and thrice weekly.
Reyes, who took over the case on Jan. 5, 2010, has already heard a total of 223 witnesses: 131 prosecution witnesses, 34 defense witnesses, and 58 private complainants as of August 2016.