Family of lawyer slain in Maguindanao seeks fast resolution of case

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MAGUINDANAO Gov. Esmael Mangudadato points at the still at-large suspects of the Maguindanao massacre. A total of 103 suspects are now under detention while 92 remain at large. JOAN BONDOC

BACOLOD CITY—The family of one of the 58 victims of the Maguindanao massacre is asking President Benigno Aquino III to help ensure the speedy resolution of the case since three years have already passed and they have yet to attain justice.

“I would like the President to do something. I would like to know what he has done about the case and all the pieces of evidence that were presented,” said Andrea Jayme, younger sister of human rights lawyer Connie Brizuela.

Brizuela, legal counsel of Maguindanao Gov. Esmael “Toto” Mangudadatu, was one of the 58 persons killed in Ampatuan, Maguindanao, on Nov. 23, 2009. Among the fatalities were 32 journalists.

The attack was allegedly carried out by leaders of the Ampatuan clan to stop Mangudadatu from filing his candidacy for a gubernatorial post in the 2010 elections.

Jayme said about 100 witnesses had been presented and a number of them had been killed. Some of the witnesses had either been threatened or offered money, she added.

Jayme, village councilor of Mansilingan in Bacolod City, said her sister was a classmate of Mangudadatu in a law school in Mindanao and was very close to his wife.

On Friday, Jayme joined 30 members of Gabriela-Negros and Karapatan in offering red roses tied with black ribbons at the Marker of the Fallen Journalists at the Bacolod public plaza.

She later joined the members of the Bacolod media, led by the Negros Press Club and the Kapisanan ng mga Brodkaster sa Pilipinas, at a torch and candle-lighting ceremony at the plaza at 7 p.m.

In Iloilo, Mass was held at Jaro Cathedral, which was also in celebration of the arrival of the image of Visayan martyr Saint Pedro Calungsod.

Jaro Auxiliary Bishop Gerardo Alminaza said 58 candles representing the victims of the massacre were lit and offered as part of the liturgy in the Mass celebrated by Jaro Archbishop Angel Lagdameo.

The candles were carried by journalists, human rights advocates, families of victims of enforced disappearances and religious persons.

Alminaza said it is important to commemorate the massacre because the Catholic Church has always encouraged the people to “stand up for what is right and face the consequences” for making this stand.

“The Church cannot be neutral if there is a clear violation of human rights. We also call for an end to impunity,” Alminaza told the Philippine Daily Inquirer.

He also lamented the slow of pace of the trial of the massacre case.

In Cebu, the Cebu Federation of Beat Journalists (CFBJ) called on President Aquino to fulfill his 2010 election campaign promise: Ensure that justice be served to the massacre victims.

“Now, (former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo) is no longer in power and almost half of (Aquino’s) presidential term had passed, and it seems that justice is still elusive. And this is not good for a democratic country like the Philippines,” according to the CFBJ statement.

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