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Pangilinan on 9th ‘Maguindanao massacre’ anniv: ‘Nothing to reckon as victory’

/ 03:02 PM November 23, 2018

Nine years after the Maguindanao Massacre which saw the death of 58 individuals, including 32 journalists, nothing can still be considered as victory.

Senator Francis Pangilinan on Friday said he laments that the same conditions that led to the brutal killing in 2009 still exist today.

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“We can only count the years that have gone by since the massacre of 58 people in Maguindanao, but we have nothing to reckon as victory,” he said in a statement.

“Nine years later, the same conditions that led to the massacre persist — the dominance of warlords and corrupt clans, the impunity of the powerful who can get away with murder, the fundamentally flawed justice system,” he said.

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READ: After 9 years, still no court verdict on massacre case; families dismayed

Pangilinan, president of the opposition Liberal Party, lashed at the Duterte administration, whom he said “does not acknowledge deaths due to extra-judicial killings but instead thrive on fake news and misinformation to get back at its critics.”

“We see altered and controlled public disclosure to suit the purpose of the ruling power,” Pangilinan said.

He said the freedom of the press and the people’s right to know are restricted under this condition.

READ: WHAT WENT BEFORE: The Maguindanao massacre

The senator also decried the attacks against media, including killings, death threats, filing of libel cases, online harassment, verbal abuse, and revoking of registration and denying renewal of franchise to some media companies.

“Today, against this backdrop, we remember those who were killed in the Ampatuan massacre to call for justice against repression and manipulation of the press,” he said.

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On November 23, 2009, 58 individuals were shot dead and buried in graves dug using a backhoe on a hilltop in a remote village of Ampatuan town, Maguindanao province.

The fatalities were part of the convoy of the wife, relatives, and supporters of Esmael Mangudadatu, then Buluan vice nayor, who were on their way to file his certificate of candidacy for governor against then Datu Unsay Mayor Andal Ampatuan Jr. for the 2010 polls.

Prosecutors said Andal Jr. and around a hundred gunmen ambushed the convoy, burying the 58 individuals while they were still onboard their vehicles. /muf

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