Malacañang on Sunday urged the Supreme Court to speed up the resolution of the case of the Maguindanao Massacre, which took place six years ago.
On Nov. 23, 2009, 58 people—mostly journalists—were killed in the incident, considered one of the worst cases of election-related violence.
The massacre was also denounced as the single deadliest attack against the press by the US-based Committee to Protect Journalists, because the victims included 32 journalists.
“Once again, we ask our judicial branch if there’s any way that they [can] speed up the pace of the case. We understand that the Supreme Court has done a number of reforms to ensure that the case will be expedited and hopefully, the case will be resolved at the earliest possible time,” said Secretary Edwin Lacierda, presidential spokesman in an interview over state-run radio station dzRB.
Lacierda noted that the Supreme Court has already responded to queries about why the case is still pending in court.
“We, both media and government, [have asked] if the trial could be expedited. It is already in Court. What I know is that the prosecution has rested its case. It is already the defense’s job to present its evidence or file what we call a demurrer to evidence,” said Lacierda.
Lacierda recalled that the massacre took place during the election campaign in 2009.
The massacre was allegedly masterminded by the powerful Ampatuan clan of Maguindanao, to derail the gubernatorial bid of Esmael Mangudadatu against Andal Ampatuan Jr.
The victims were on their way to the provincial capitol to file Mangudadatu’s Certificate of Candidacy when the convoy bearing members of his family, his supporters and local media workers was attacked in Sitio Masalay, Barangay Salman, Ampatuan, Maguindanao.
Of the 197 charged for the massacre, only 100 are now in jail facing multiple murder charges, while many are still at large.
Among those in jail are some of the principal suspects belonging to the warlord clan, like former Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao Gov. Zaldy Ampatuan and his brother, Andal “Datu Unsay” Ampatuan Jr. The Ampatuan patriarch, former Gov. Andal Ampatuan Sr., died earlier this year due to a liver ailment.
Meanwhile, a “state of impunity” continues to reign six years after the massacre, Bayan Muna Reps. Neri Colmenares and Carlos Isagani Zarate said on Sunday.
“For six years, justice is still elusive for the 58 victims of that
carnage in Ampatuan, Maguindanao. The massacre is a monument to the state of impunity that still reigns under the Aquino administration,” Zarate said.
“Aquino has repeatedly dismissed the killings of media members to personal disputes. Such statements are dangerous for all people. The denial of the government of media killings means that impunity will continue and heighten under his government,” Colmenares said.
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