MANILA – President Rodrigo Duterte has vowed to resolve the Maguindanao massacre case within his term, his spokesman said on Friday.
Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque Jr. said Duterte made the promise during his meeting with the families of the massacre victims on Thursday, November 23, when the nation commemorated the 8th year anniversary of the killings, considered the worst election-related violence in Philippine history.
"The families went to see the President to personally seek his help in their long quest for justice against the powerful members of the Ampatuan clan in Maguindanao,” Roque said in a statement, adding the President in turn “assured them that justice will be delivered under his watch.”
Roque said Duterte ordered Justice Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre II, the Presidential Task Force on Media Security, and state prosecutors present in the meeting “to see to it that a conviction would be handed down to the principal accused the soonest time possible.”
“President Duterte, a former prosecutor himself, even shared his thoughts on the dynamics and intricacies of the justice system, noting that even the right of the accused to be heard is sacred under our democratic rules,” Roque said.
“Nevertheless, he expressed optimism that the strength of the case against them— 188 respondents in all— will eventually lead to a verdict favorable to the victims.”
Duterte also ordered that the families be given employment, scholarships, and financial assistance.
As the nation marked the 8th year since the massacre, which claimed the lives of 58 people, including 32 members of the media, justice remains elusive for the families of the victims.
According to the fact sheet provided by the PTFoMS, of the 188 suspects officially charged for the killings, 106 are currently under detention while 82 remain at large.
Not a single conviction, however, has been achieved.