Statement of Chief Justice Maria Lourdes P. A. Sereno on the recent Maguindanao Encounter

In the wake of the recent deaths in Mamasapano, Maguindanao involving officers and members of the Philippine National Police – Special Action Force and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front, I and my colleagues on the Supreme Court express our deepest sympathy to the families and loved ones of our injured and fallen policemen. We deeply mourn for those killed, and weep with their families as we would weep for our own kin. No words are enough to console the families for their loss, perhaps even the promise of earthly justice will sound hollow at this time. But I ask them now to cling to the hope that there is always the eternal realm.

We call for sobriety as we all await the full report on the investigation. During this time, we must ascertain facts to avoid confusion and acknowledge the complexities of the situation to allow for the rule of law to truly prevail.

A call for war and retribution should never be made lightly and should remain always a final option. It should certainly not be made in the heat of the moment and in the face of, as yet, unclear facts and confusing narratives. Let us instead all contribute to our nation’s search for just and lasting peace by encouraging all parties to bring any conflict to the table of peace instead of the battlefields of war.

On our part, the judiciary has committed to do its utmost to ensure that the rule of law is upheld. We have sworn to render justice as a sacred duty, even if our very lives demand it, in the same way that our soldiers and policemen have given their lives for the service of this country. Some of our very best judges have also fallen, and we continue to mourn for them, and feel their absence.

Lives have already been lost. More violence and more deaths will not contribute to the cause of peace; to paraphrase a great civil rights leader, violence begets the very thing it seeks to destroy and adds deeper darkness to a night already devoid of stars. Let us not add to the darkness but to the light. It is the only way that we ensure that the sacrifices of our fallen policemen would not be in vain.

27 January 2015.

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