Lawyer of Maguindanao massacre victims eyes 2018 resolution

RG Cruz, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Nov 21 2017 04:46 PM | Updated as of Nov 23 2017 06:42 PM

Eight years on, families of the victims of the Maguindanao massacre still cry for justice. ABS-CBN News

MANILA - A lawyer representing relatives of some of the victims of the Maguindanao massacre is eyeing a resolution of the case next year.

Nena Santos, a private prosecutor, told reporters that the prosecution has already finished presenting its case while the defense is already winding up.

"We're looking at 2018 for partial conviction in so far as the victims and the private prosecutors and the government prosecutors [are] concerned," Santos said Tuesday.

By then, relatives would be marking 9 years since the gruesome crime, where 58 people, including 32 media practitioners, were killed in an incident known to be the single deadliest attack on journalists. 

Of the 196 accused, only 115 have been arrested while the rest remain at large, Santos said.

The massacre was allegedly perpetrated by the Ampatuan clan to hide supposed anomalies they committed on the runup to the 2010 elections.

The Ampatuans are accused of killing the entire entourage of Esmael Mangudadatu while they were on their way to file his certificate of candidacy. Mangudadatu, then vice mayor of Buluan town, was running for governor, challenging Datu Unsay Mayor Andal Ampatuan Jr., son of then incumbent Maguindanao governor Andal Ampatuan Sr.

Mangudadatu, however, was not in the said entourage when the incident happened.

At present, 102 suspects for the crime are in jail, 70 of whom have been granted bail but remain in jail for lack of money.

Santos said they are looking to President Rodrigo Duterte to speed up justice for the victims.

"The President should have ordered the DOJ (Department of Justice) Secretary to make a statement regarding this case kasi wala kaming naririnig..." she said.

Maguindanao Rep. Zajid Mangudadatu said they are seeking an audience with the President in the hopes of speeding up the judicial process.

"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 to them. I firmly believe that President Duterte will be able to help us," he said.