Philippine Daily Inquirer

Convict Ampatuans, victims’ kin appeal

Relatives of Maguindana­o massacre victims renew appeal to speed up proceeding­s

- —STORY BY RICHEL UMEL AND INQUIRER RESEARCH

As families and supporters of the 58 victims of the Maguindana­o massacre mark the ninth anniversar­y of the single deadliest attack on journalist­s this Friday, they urge the government to “serve justice now [and] convict the Ampatuans.” Nearly 200 people, including the late former Gov. Andal Ampatuan Sr., have been charged with multiple murder. Only 115 have been arrested.

Nine years after the Maguindana­o massacre, known as the single deadliest attack on journalist­s and the worst electoral violence recorded in the country, the quest for justice of families of 58 victims and their supporters continues.

On Sunday, more than 200 relatives of victims and journalist­s from Mindanao and Metro Manila lighted candles and offered flowers at the massacre site at Sitio Masalay in Ampatuan town, Maguindana­o province, to mark the ninth anniversar­y of the massacre.

Nonoy Espina, national chair of the National Union of Journalist­s of the Philippine­s, said the families of the victims had urged the government to “serve justice now [and] convict the Ampatuans.”

Tarp burning

Family members burned a tarpaulin, which bore the images of Ampatuan brothers Zaldy and Andal “Unsay” Jr. and others at the massacre site.

Of the 58 victims, 32 were media workers. The body of photojourn­alist Reynaldo Momay is still missing but the court included him among the victims of the massacre on Nov. 23, 2009.

They were on their way to Shariff Aguak town to file then Buluan Vice Mayor and now Maguindana­o Gov. Esmael “Toto” Mangudadat­u’s certificat­e of candidacy for governor in the May 2010 elections when the convoy was flagged down. The victims were gunned down on a hilltop. Among the casual- ties was Mangudadat­u’s wife.

Maj. Gen. Cirilito Sobejana, commander of the Army’s 6th Infantry Division based at Camp Siongco in Awang, Maguindana­o, ordered the deployment of troops along the national highway and at the massacre site on Nov. 17, a day before the visit of journalist­s and the victims’ families, to ensure their safety.

Multiple murder

Nearly 200 people, including the late former Gov. Andal Ampatuan Sr. and his son, Andal Jr., were charged with multiple murder. Only 115 had been arrested.

The Maguindana­o massacre trial started on Sept. 8, 2010, almost 10 months after the massacre. The Quezon City Regional Trial Court has jurisdicti­on over the case, but the hearings are held in a Taguig City jail where the accused are detained.

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 ?? —BARRY OHAYLAN ?? NEVER FORGET Relatives of the 58 victims of the Maguindana­o massacre and their supporters gather at the site of the killings to mark the ninth year of the worst case of election-related violence and the single biggest attack on media workers in the country.
—BARRY OHAYLAN NEVER FORGET Relatives of the 58 victims of the Maguindana­o massacre and their supporters gather at the site of the killings to mark the ninth year of the worst case of election-related violence and the single biggest attack on media workers in the country.
 ?? —BARRY OHAYLAN ?? SOLIDARITY Journalist­s and media groups join relatives of massacre victims in seeking justice.
—BARRY OHAYLAN SOLIDARITY Journalist­s and media groups join relatives of massacre victims in seeking justice.

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