AMPATUAN, Maguindanao―The Families of the victims of the Maguindanao Massacre have renewed their call for justice―even as a private prosecutor said her panel had presented its case, and that it was now the defense’s turn to present its evidence and counter-testimonies.
Lawyer Nena Santos said of the 189 accused, 115 had already been indicted and charged and that others had either died or turned state witnesses.
She made her statement even as Presidential Task Force on Media Security executive director Joel Egco on Thursday vowed to resolve the Maguindanao Massacre within President Rodrigo Duterte’s term.
“Well within four years or well within the term of President Rodrigo Duterte based on the assumption that the defense will present an equal number of witnesses as the prosecution,” Egco told reporters in Malacañang.
In Cotabato City, peace advocates in Mindanao are not losing hope that genuine peace is attainable on the island and in the whole country.
A Roman Catholic bishop will lead this year’s celebration of Mindanao Week of Peace that features various activities promoting peace and solidarity among Mindanao’s Christians, Muslims and Lumads of natives.
The Mindanao Week of Peace starts on Nov. 29 and ends on Dec. 6 with this year’s theme “Owning Mindanao’s History for Peace and Development.”
Santos said the prosecution was hopeful of securing a conviction on the accused that include some members of the Ampatuan family held during eight years of trial before the Quezon City Regional Trial Court Branch 221.
Meanwhile, Maguindanao Gov. Esmael Mangudadatu said the provincial government’s peace efforts were focused on conflict management and the settlement of the conflict involving instances of family feud, strengthening education and scholarship programs, anti-illegal drugs abuse,and rehabilitation.
Mangudadatu, who lost his wife Genalyn and a sister in the Nov. 23, 2009 Maguindanao Massacre, said such were parts of the efforts to avoid a repeat of the incident,
Cases of “rido” or family feud had to be promptly settled, Mangudadatu said, adding that eight cases of rido had to be resolved before he attended the gathering of the victims in Sitio Masalay, Barangay Salman here Tuesday.
“The case has been terminated as far as the prosecution is concerned; it’s now the turn of the defense to present evidence and counter-testimonies,” Santos said.
Fifty-eight people, including 32 media workers, were killed here on Nov. 23, 2009 in what has since been considered the worst election-related violence in Philippine history. Some members of the political Ampatuan family stand trial in detention to charges of multiple murders in connection with the incident. with PNA