‘Serve justice now, convict Ampatuans’
Nine years after the Maguindanao massacre, known as the single deadliest attack on journalists and the worst electoral violence recorded in the country, the quest for justice of families of 58 victims and their supporters continues.
On Sunday, more than 200 relatives of victims and journalists from Mindanao and Metro Manila lighted candles and offered flowers at the massacre site at Sitio Masalay in Ampatuan town, Maguindanao province, to mark the ninth anniversary of the massacre.
Nonoy Espina, national chair of the National Union of Journalists of the Philippines, said the families of the victims had urged the government to “serve justice now [and] convict the Ampatuans.”
Family members burned a tarpaulin, which bore the images of Ampatuan brothers Zaldy and Andal “Unsay” Jr. and others at the massacre site.
Of the 58 victims, 32 were media workers. The body of photojournalist Reynaldo Momay is still missing but the court included him among the victims of the massacre on Nov. 23, 2009.
They were on their way to Shariff Aguak town to file then Buluan Vice Mayor and now Maguindanao Gov. Esmael “Toto” Mangudadatu’s certificate of candidacy for governor in the May 2010 elections when the convoy was flagged down.
The victims were gunned down on a hilltop. Among the casualties was Mangudadatu’s wife.
Maj. Gen. Cirilito Sobejana, commander of the Army’s 6th Infantry Division based at Camp Siongco in Awang, Maguindanao, ordered the deployment of troops along the national highway and at the massacre site on Nov. 17, a day before the visit of journalists and the victims’ families, to ensure their safety.
Nearly 200 people, including the late former Gov. Andal Ampatuan Sr. and his son, Andal Jr., were charged with multiple murder. Only 115 had been arrested.
The Maguindanao massacre trial started on Sept. 8, 2010, almost 10 months after the massacre.
The Quezon City Regional Trial Court has jurisdiction over the case, but the hearings are held in a Taguig City jail where the accused are detained. —Reports from Richel Umel and Inquirer Research
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