Maguindanao massacre victims seek to double civil damages

ABS-CBN News

Posted at Jan 03 2020 09:52 AM | Updated as of Jan 03 2020 02:54 PM

The families of the victims await the promulgation of the Maguindanao massacre case at Camp Bagong Diwa in Taguig City on Dec. 19, 2019. Jonathan Cellona, ABS-CBN News

MANILA — Relatives of the victims in 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 are entitled to damages ranging from P350,000 to P23.5 million, under a special court's decision in December, a month after the slaughter marked its 10th anniversary.

"Dapat madoble man lang iyong damages na ibinigay, unang-una, dahil mas mahalaga ang buhay... at pangalawa hindi naman po iyan makukuha agad-agad habang nag-apela pa rin ang mga akusado," said lawyer Harry Roque, who represents 18 of 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.)

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The Supreme Court needs to agree with the 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 will not object to the transfer as long as it is limited to the national penitentiary, said Roque.

"Ang hindi po namin gusto ay baka na naman mapunta siya sa Makati Medical Center, kumain sa floating restaurant at manatili na naman sa suite samantalang siya ay napatunayang nagkasala," he 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.)

On Nov. 23, 2009, the "private army" of the Ampatuans allegedly 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.