Duterte vows justice for Maguindanao Massacre victims
President Rodrigo Duterte promised to deliver justice for the victims of the Maguindanao Massacre the “soonest possible time” and provide assistance to their relatives, a Palace official said on Friday.
In his meeting with 12 families of the Maguindanao Massacre victims on Thursday night, Duterte ordered Justice Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre II and Presidential Task Force on Media Security (PTFoMS) Joel Sy-Egco to “see to it that a conviction would be handed down to the principal accused the soonest time possible,” Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque said in a statement.
Mr. Duterte also ordered Special Assistant to the President Secretary Christopher “Bong” Go, to arrange employment, scholarships and financial assistance to the families, Roque, who was also present in the meeting, said.
According to Roque, the families went to see the President to “personally seek his help in their long quest for justice against the powerful members of the Ampatuan clan in Maguindanao.”
“The meeting was cordial, candid, and impassioned,” he added.
The meeting coincided with the 8th anniversary of the Maguindanao Massacre, where 58 people—32 of them members of the press—were brutally gunned down on a hilltop in Sitio Masalay, Brgy. (village) Salman in the town of Ampatuan, Maguindanao. The incident is dubbed as the single deadliest attack against journalists and the worst electoral violence ever recorded.
Roque said Duterte has expressed optimism that the strength of the case would “eventually lead to a verdict favorable to the victims.”
“President Duterte, a former prosecutor himself, even shared his thoughts on the dynamics and intricacies of the justice system, noting that even the right of the accused to be heard is sacred under our democratic rules,” the spokesperson said.
“Nevertheless, he expressed optimism that the strength of the case against them— 188 respondents in all— will eventually lead to a verdict favorable to the victims,” he noted.
Duterte, who was still Davao City mayor at the time of the massacre, was among the first to extend help to the families by providing the helicopter that found the site of the Maguindanao massacre, Roque said.
“Rest assured that us in the government, through PTFoMS, the [Department of Justice] and other stakeholders, will work without letup in ensuring justice for all victims of violence against members of the working press,” he emphasized.
“We are committed to upholding the President’s promise that his government will never condone violence and repression of media,” he added. /kga
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