The relatives of the victims of the Maguindanao massacre will ask a Quezon City court to at least double the claim for civil damages that it awarded to them, their lawyer said Friday.
The victims’ next of kin were entitled to damages of P350,000 to P23.5 million under a special court’s decision in December, a month after the slaughter marked its 10th anniversary, said lawyer Harry Roque who represents 18 of the 58 victims’ relatives.
“The damages granted should at least be doubled because, first of all, life is more valuable and second, this cannot be claimed as long as the accused are still appealing,” Roque said.
Meanwhile, three members of the Ampatuan clan are challenging their conviction in the Maguindanao massacre case before a Quezon City Regional Trial Court.
Anwar Ampatuan Sr. and his two sons―Anwar Jr. alias Datu Ipi and Anwar Sajid alias Datu Ulo―filed two separate motions for reconsideration with Branch 221 Judge Jocelyn Reyes.
Anwar Sr. maintains his innocence, saying he “actually cooperated in the commission of the crimes as charged.”
Reyes convicted Anwar Sr. for his participation in a meeting to kill the family members of then Buluan vice mayor Esmael Mangudadatu.
The Supreme Court needs to agree with Reyes’ verdict, which can take up to 24 months if contested by the accused, before the victims’ relatives can claim the damages, Senior Deputy State Prosecutor Richard Anthony Fadullon earlier said.
Three members of the Ampatuan clan who were found guilty of orchestrating the Nov. 23, 2009 massacre asked the court on Thursday to reconsider its ruling.
Zaldy Ampatuan, another of the accused, sought to be moved to the New Bilibid Prison infirmary because of poor health.
The victims’ families would not object to the transfer as long as it was limited to the national penitentiary, Roque said.
“What we don’t want is if he will go to the Makati Medical Center, eat at a floating restaurant and stay at a suite even if he was found guilty,” he said.
On Nov. 23, 2009, the “private army” of the Ampatuans blocked a convoy of mostly female supporters of Esmael Mangudadatu, who were on their way to register his candidacy for governor, challenging one of the Ampatuans.
Some 100 armed men mauled 58 people, including 32 journalists, and then killed them execution style. They were buried in a shallow grave on a hill in Ampatuan town.
Judge Jocelyn Solis Reyes found guilty 43 people, including brothers Zaldy and Andal “Unsay” Ampatuan Jr., 14 police officers and a member
of the Ampatuan militia. Some 53 defendants were acquitted while 80 accused remain at large.