EIGHT years after the murder of 58 people on Nov. 23, 2009, in Barangay Salman, Ampatuan Town, the relatives, friends and supporters of the Maguindanao Massacre victims are appealing to President Rodrigo Duterte for justice by helping to facilitate the resolution of the cases against the killers.
The Maguindanao Massacre is considered the worst case of election-related violence in Philippine history.
In a press conference at the House of Representatives on Tuesday, Maguindanao Rep. Zajid Mangudadatu emphasized the need to resolve the cases against the alleged perpetrators including the late Maguindanao governor Andal Ampatuan Sr. and his sons.
“I am not here for a blame game,” Mangudadatu said.
“I just want to remind everybody that we are still here waiting for justice to be served. We are fervently asking for your help because the case is still pending and progressing very slowly.”
The case is being tried by Judge Jocelyn Solis-Reyes of the Quezon City Regional Trial Court Branch 221.
Mangudadatu said the relatives of some of the victims had died, such as Nancy dela Cruz and Mario Cadagdagon, the parents of journalists Gina dela Cruz and Jepon Cadagdagon.
“The wounds may have healed but the abuse and impunity that the perpetrators of the Maguindanao Massacre still remain fresh and bleeding. It will only stop when we have achieved justice,” Mangudadatu said.
“I hope that President Duterte will continue to help us in this fight to show the world that in the Philippines criminals are given what is due them. I firmly believe that President Duterte will be able to help us.”
Fifty-eight people, including 32 journalists, were killed on their way to Shariff Aguak. Among those killed was the wife of Esmael Mangudadatu, Genalyn. They were supposed to file Mangudadatu’s Certificate of Candidacy for the May 2010 election.
In an attempt to cover up what happened, the killers used backhoes to bury the bodies and the vehicles used by the Mangudadatu convoy.
Nena Santos, counsel for the massacre victims, said only 112 of the 196 suspects had actually been arraigned and undergoing trial.
Most of the accused were able to present evidence, and Santos said there could be partial conviction by next year.
“We’re looking at 2018 for a partial conviction insofar as the victims, the private prosecutors and the government prosecutors, are concerned,” Santos said.
Duterte could help the relatives of the victims by urging Justice Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre II to come up with a statement regarding the incident, she said.
“Since we are under the DoJ, the President should order the DoJ secretary to make a statement regarding this case,” Santos said.
Duterte could also help the relatives of the victims in terms of security and financial assistance.
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