MANILA—Families of victims arrived at a police camp in Taguig City hoping for nothing short of a conviction of members of the Ampatuan clan accused of masterminding Maguindanao massacre 10 years ago.
“Nagdasal ako na makuha ang 100 percent guilty verdict,” said Esmael “Toto” Mangundadatu, the province’s former governor who lost his wife and sisters in the mass murder.
“Gusto ko nga talagang bitay, lalo na yang si (Datu) Usnay (Ampatuan Jr.) pati magkakapatid dahil talagang grabe ginagawa nila.”
The killings of 58 people on Nov 23, 2009 was allegedly carried out on the orders of the late Datu Andal Ampatuan Sr., with his sons involved in the planning.
Thursday’s historic ruling will also be closely watched because the case involves the murder of 32 journalists, who were covering Mangudadatu’s filing of his certificate of candidacy in a challenge to the Ampatuans.
Communications Secretary Martin Andanar told he was hoping for a guilty verdict. He declined to answer how such a ruling would help stop what journalists groups described as a culture of impunity against the press.
Andanar, a former news anchor, called for support for the proposed Media Welfare Act.
Naomi Parcon, widow of journalist Joel Parcon, said a guilty verdict would not necessarily provide closure to the families of the massacre victims.
But she said she was hoping for the conviction of the Ampatuans siblings, adding an acquittal of at least one “would bring us pain again.”