MANILA, Philippines — The resolution of the Maguindanao Massacre case will be a measure of how far the Philippines’ justice system has progressed, Senator Francis Pangilinan said.
“The Maguindanao Massacre case will be the benchmark of how far our justice system has progressed from previous administrations, whether we like it or not. It is then extremely urgent that we exert all efforts to resolve this case as swiftly as possible,” Pangilinan said in a statement Thursday.
“We must not allow this massacre be trivialized and buried in the annals of our history by the slow grind of our wheels of justice,” he added.
Friday marks the third anniversary of the massacre in the Maguindanao province in the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao where 58 people were killed, 32 of whom jouurnalists.
The victims were traveling in a convoy with supporters of then Maguindanao mayor Esmael Mangudadatu who were on their way to file his certificate of candidacy.
Armed men then stopped the convoy in a remote area, brought them out, gunned them down and buried in a mass grave using a backhoe.
The massacre is widely regarded as the worst incident of political violence in the country’s history. Less than half of the 194 suspects remain at large. Members of the powerful Ampatuan clan were allegedly behind the massacre.
“That act was so brazen and so dastardly–it is horrifying to think that anyone is capable of doing this, and yet it happened,” Pangilinan said.
“It isn’t only the Ampatuans and their co-accused that are on trial here, but the entire system of justice. The failure to render a timely and just judgement is an indictment on the capacity of the nation to serve justice,” he said.
Pangilinan also urged the Philippine National Police to step up security measures for the relatives of the victims who have been receiving death threats.