Journs, victims’ families: Full justice elusive years after massacre

Maguindanao massacre: Victims’ kin still waiting for justice after 14 years

Journs, victims’ families: Full justice still elusive 14 years after Maguindanao massacre

Families of victims of the Maguindanao massacre display their calls at a memorial park in General Santos City where some of them were buried, during a Nov. 20 commemoration ceremony. Photo from NUJP

GENERAL SANTOS CITY — Some 14 years after the Maguindanao massacre that killed 58 people, 32 of whom were journalists and media workers, the full measure of justice remains elusive for the victims’ families.

“We hope to achieve full justice that we have been struggling for and that we deserve. We want this case to end soon and that we will receive the compensation awarded to us by the court,” Grace Morales, spokesperson of Justice Now! told the Inquirer in the vernacular.


Justice Now! groups the families of the 32 slain journalists and media workers.


In convicting 43 suspects for multiple murder in December 2019, Quezon City Regional Trial Court Branch 221 Judge Joce­lyn Solis-Reyes also directed them to jointly pay the families of each of the victims P100,000 in civil indemnity, P100,000 in moral damages and P100,000 in exemplary damages.

READ: Decision on 2009 Maguindanao Massacre Out Dec. 19

Some families were also awarded compensation for actual damages. The suspects, principal of whom are scions of the Ampatuan family, were also ordered to pay the families for loss of earning capacity of the victims.

READ: Ampatuan Jr. gets 210 years in jail for 21 graft cases

Morales said the compensation would be a big help for some families who still struggle to put their members in school and for providing for their medical needs.

But Reyes’ historic ruling has been under appeal. “(This is why) the fight is not yet over,” said Justice Now! chairperson Emily Lopez.

“Although there were convictions in the 2019 decision on the case, this is only partial justice until the convictions are final and victims’ families receive compensation for the loss of their loved ones,” the National Union of Journalists of the Philippines (NUJP), in a statement on Thursday, said.

NUJP and Justice Now! are also fighting to have the late photojournalist Reynaldo Momay included among the victims as the Reyes ruling only counted 57 victims.


Only Momay’s denture was found at the site of the massacre hence his family is not a party in the case.

The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) also joined NUJP on Thursday “in standing in solidarity with the families and communities of the victims as they continue to demand full justice and compensation for the tragedy.”

“Fourteen years on from the single worst massacre of journalists in history, only partial justice has been delivered for the families of those killed,” the IFJ emphasized.

At the massacre site in Ampatuan town, Maguindanao del Sur, former Maguindanao Rep. Esmael Mangudadatu, who lost his wife in the tragedy, lamented that some 80 suspects had remained scot-free, adding to the victims’ injury.

“Some of these suspects are just roaming in the vicinity of Maguindanao,” Mangudadatu said during Thursday’s commemoration rites which was aired live on Facebook.

Some 197 suspects were charged for the crime, 43 were convicted, 56 acquitted, and some others died while the trial was going on.

Principal among those found guilty of 57 counts of murder were former Datu Unsay town mayor Andal Ampatuan Jr. and his brother Zaldy who was governor of the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao at the time of the incident. They were sentenced to 40 years in prison without parole.

“We call on the government of Ferdinand Marcos Jr. and authorities to end the suffering for the families of those killed,” the IFJ said.

The NUJP noted that 14 years after the massacre, which heightened attention on the phenomenon of media killings, the country “remains a dangerous place for journalists.”

“Journalists and media workers in the Philippines today continue to face high levels of violence and killings. On May 31, broadcaster Cresenciano Bundoquin was the latest journalist to be murdered outside his home near Manila. Misamis Occidental radio anchor Juan Jumalon was also fatally shot on November 5. So, too, the October 2022 murder of Percy Lapid, allegedly orchestrated by senior government officials, has languished before the courts,” the IFJ pointed out.

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“(We) take this day to remind the world of the failings of the wheels of justice in the country which is one of the world’s most deadly for journalists and media workers,” the IFJ added.

TAGS: journalists, Maguindanao massacre

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