MANILA -- The fight for justice continues even after a court hands down its verdict on the Maguindanao massacre on Thursday after 10 years, a politician who was widowed in the carnage said.
The Ampatuan clan, whose heads are among 101 who stood trial for murder, are returning the power and can appeal the verdict. There are also some 80 other suspects who remain at large, said Maguindanao Rep. Esmael "Toto" Mangudadatu.
Mangudadatu's wife was among 58 killed on Nov. 23, 2009 when the Ampatuans' private army allegedly stopped a convoy that was on its way to file his certificate of candidacy for Maguindanao governor, in a challenge to the Ampatuan clan.
"'Pag positibo nating makuha iyong verdict, siyempre may mga changes na rin iyan paunti-unti. Pero hindi d'yan hihinto ang laban," he told radio DZMM.
(If we get a positive verdict, of course there will be gradual changes. But the fight does not stop there.)
Some 80 suspects at large are reportedly involved in the illegal drug trade, Mangudadatu said, adding, "Hindi mahuli-huli dahil walang nanghuhuli."
(They are have not been arrested because no one is attempting to.)
"Sana po ang kapulisan, kasundaluhan tingnan nila maayos kung anong sitwasyon doon sa Maguindanao. Dapat ma-maintain iyong peace and order para iyong proteksyon para sa mga kababayan natin ay mananaig," he added.
(I hope the police, military will examine the situation in Maguindanao. The peace and order should be maintained so that the protection of our compatriots would be upheld.)
The 101 defendants, who have pleaded not guilty, face up to 30 years in prison without parole if convicted of even one of the 58 murders, lawyers representing many of the victims' families said.
— With a report from Agence France-Presse