Maguindanao massacre case proves impunity thrives for the powerful – media group
MANILA, Philippines — On the eve of judgement for the Maguindanao massacre case, a group of independent media organizations in the country condemned the slow wheels of justice for the victims of the November 2009 gruesome killings.
For the AlterMidya (People’s Alternative Media Network), the persistence of paramilitary groups and political dynasties apparently contributed to “a decade of injustice.”
“The Ampatuan case is one more indication of the fact that in the Philippines, a verdict in the lower courts even on a patently heinous crime will take at least a decade,” AlterMidya said in a statement Wednesday.
“It proves that impunity thrives for the powerful, while for the victims of crimes such as the Ampatuan massacre, a decade can pass without attaining justice.”
Members of the Ampatuan clan were primary suspects in the multiple murder case. Despite this, 25 of them won local seats in last May’s midterm elections.
Human Rights Watch even noted that 14 members of the Ampatuan family and 50 police officers and soldiers linked to the massacre are yet to be arrested.
This even if the lower court is set to issue its judgement on the grisly murders of 58 people on Thursday, December 19. The Supreme Court has allowed the live media coverage of the Maguindanao massacre case promulgation.
“On December 19, the Filipino public expects nothing less than a conviction from Quezon City RTC Judge Jocelyn Solis-Reyes,” said AlterMidya.
“A conviction of the Ampatuans would be considered an initial victory against impunity,” it added. “An acquittal, on the other hand, would spell death to press freedom.”
To recall, 58 individuals, among them 32 journalists, were slaughtered in Ampatuan town in Maguindanao on November 23, 2009.
The journalists were part of a convoy en route to witness Esmael “Toto” Mangudadatu’s filing of his certificate of candidacy for governor. The Mangudadatus and Ampatuans are rival political families in the province. Mangudadatu’s wife was among those killed in the brutal crime.
The Maguindanao massacre was dubbed as the worst election-related violence in Philippine history and the single deadliest attack on journalists in the world.
Edited by KGA
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