WHO’S afraid of the Ampatuans?

Not these two Thomasians who are at the forefront of the legal battle against members of the clan, the prime suspects in the gruesome mass murder of at least 57 people in Maguindanao last November 23.

In fact, Quezon City Judge Jocelyn Solis-Reyes doesn’t feel the need of bodyguards even if she’s presiding over a celebrated case involving one of the most powerful political clans in the country.

Senior State prosecutor Roseanne Balauag, on the other hand, leads the Department of Justice (DOJ)’s preliminary investigation against the Ampatuans. Solis-Reyes and Balauag were graduates of the Faculty of Civil Law in 1986 and 1988, respectively.

“I think it is God’s will that both Thomasians handle the Ampatuan case,” Balauag said.

No, thank you

The Philippine National Police earlier offered to assign bodyguards for Solis-Reyes, citing the known notoriety of the Ampatuan clan that has lorded over Maguindanao for years.

But the judge declined, saying she didn’t feel the need for one right now. Still, police provided 24-7 protection for her and her family.

“[The police] are just doing their duty,” Solis-Reyes told the Varsitarian in her first interview with the media since her appointment in the Ampatuan case.

Solis-Reyes would not have been in the spotlight if a colleague—Judge Luisito Cortez—did not beg off for security reasons. Unlike Cortez, Reyes didn’t think twice in accepting the case following a second raffle.

Her courage to embrace the assignment, despite looming threats to her life, earned her the admiration of the Filipino people and the media alike.

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Solis-Reyes, 49, still remembers what her professor in Civil Law said: “UST wants you to become a good Christian lawyer.”

She once dreamed of becoming a news anchor and took up journalism at the Lyceum of the Philippines for her undergraduate.

But two women inspired her to take up law: her mother (who was also a law student), and a female attorney in her boarding house.

“My mother was only able to study law for three years. This probably motivated me to become a lawyer someday,” she said.

In 1982, she juggled between studying in UST and working in a government agency. Despite the hectic schedule, she still managed to join Astrea, a sorority for law students.

Solis-Reyes’ ascent to success began working at the Public Attorney’s Office in 1992. She was also a public prosecutor in DOJ until 2000.

Solis-Reyes was then appointed as presiding judge in the Municipal Trial Court between 2001 and 2003, and eventually at a Quezon City Regional Trial Court.

“I am very grateful and honored to be one of UST’s graduates, especially because [the University] played a big role in shaping me as a lawyer,” she said.

Achiever

Balauag, 46, graduated with honors at the La Consolacion High School in 1980 and took Behavioral Science in UST. Soon after, she went on to ace law school and graduated cum laude.

The achiever has been a prosecutor since 1995. She has gone through numerous training programs as a prosecutor, from anti-counterfeiting seminars to “shaken baby syndrome” investigations that brought her to places like China and Japan.

In 2005, Balauag was hailed as an outstanding prosecutor of the Philippines.

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Asked about the values she received from the University and she said that it had helped her “develop sincerity in everything I do.”

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