Kin of victims mark upcoming 10th anniversary of Maguindanao massacre

Lore Mae Andong, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Nov 17 2019 08:27 PM

AMPATUAN, Maguindanao - The relatives of the victims of the Maguindanao massacre visited on Sunday the site where the bodies of their slain loved ones were found almost ten years ago.

Less than a week before the 10th anniversary of the single deadliest election-related violence in the Philippines, the kin of the victims as well as members of the National Union of Journalists of the Philippines offered a mass at the site of the massacre, and renewed their call for justice.

Fifty-eight people, including 32 journalists, were killed and buried using an excavator in a mass grave on Nov. 23, 2009, in the town of Ampatuan, Maguindanao.

Almost 200 people, including members of the powerful Ampatuan clan, were charged for the killings.

The attack was allegedly led by Datu Andal “Unsay” Ampatuan Jr. and carried out by the rest of his family.

Jean Malabanan, the daughter of journalist Gina Dela Cruz, said their lives have not been easy since her mother died.

She was 15 years old when the body of her mother was dug up in Sitio Masalay in Barangay Salman. Malabanan had to take care of 4 other siblings after her mother's death.

"President Duterte sana po maibigay na ang hustisya," she cried during the commemoration.

(President Duterte, we ask that justice finally be given.)

Karen Araneta, wife of radio reporter Henry Araneta, said they were looking forward to the verdict this month, and were disappointed when the Supreme Court gave a 30-day extension to the judge handling the case.

Quezon City Regional Trial Court Judge Jocelyn Solis-Reyes asked for a 30-day extension, citing "the voluminous records of these cases which have now reached 238 volumes," including transcripts and the prosecution’s evidence.

Araneta said the extension made her a bit worried and concerned.

"Nandoon din 'yung kaba namin na baka hindi pa kaagad-agad makamit ang hustisya. Pero I surrender to God na hihimukin talaga ng Lord na 'yung mga taong humahawak sa kaso namin na maibibigay na ang hustisya," Araneta said.

(There's the worry that justice will not be given soon. But I surrender to God, that the Lord will move the people handling the case to deliver justice.)

The NUJP said it also hopes that justice will finally be served.

The kin of the massacre victims burnt the photos of former Datu Unsay mayor Andal Ampatuan Jr., former ARMM Governor Zaldy Ampatuan, and Mamasapano Mayor Sajid Islam Ampatuan who was then the OIC Governor of Maguindanao.

Maguindanao Rep. Esmael "Toto" Mangudadatu on Friday said he would resign from his post if the court fails to rule in favor of victims of the Maguindanao Massacre.