THE Presidential Task Force on Media Security expects a court ruling on the case of slain journalists in Maguindanao province in 2009 by year-end.

In a telephone interview, Executive Director Joel Sy Egco said the task force had expected a ruling by the first quarter, but the camp of the accused has allegedly been delaying the case through technicalities.

He said some of the accused have been seeking extensions to file their memoranda in court.

Justice Secretary Menardo I. Guevarra earlier said the Maguindanao massacre case was completed on July 17 and the parties were given until Aug. 15 to submit their final pleadings.

On Nov. 23, 2009, family members and associates of then gubernatorial candidate Esmael G. Mangudadatu, accompanied by members of the media, were massacred on Masalay hills in Ampatuan town, Maguindanao province, by henchmen associated with his political rival.

The party was accompanying Mr. Mangudadatu who was filing his certificate of candidacy against former Datu Unsay Mayor Andal U. Ampatuan, Jr., son of former Maguindanao Governor Andal S. Ampatuan, Sr.

Mr. Egco said 108 accused are waiting for the court’s verdict. The prosecution presented 195 witnesses, while defense lawyers presented 134, he said.

The case is being heard by Quezon City Judge Jocelyn Solis-Reyes. — Arjay L. Balinbin