International community lauds Maguindanao massacre verdict

ABS-CBN News

Posted at Dec 20 2019 01:56 PM | Updated as of Dec 20 2019 04:54 PM

MANILA (UPDATE) - Several countries and the European bloc have lauded the verdict on the Maguindanao massacre 10 years since the gruesome crime shocked the world, calling the historic ruling a step towards justice and addressing impunity. 

In separate statements, representatives and missions of Canada, the United Kingdom, the United States and the European Union welcomed Thursday's ruling that found several members of the powerful Ampatuan political clan, police officers and several others guilty of the 2009 mass murder in Maguindanao province. 

A total of 58 people, including 32 journalists were killed when more than 100 men, on orders of the Ampatuans, ambushed a convoy of supporters of a political rival out to challenge the family for the governorship. The ruling covered 57 counts, as one victim remains missing to this day. 

In a statement Friday, Canada said it "welcomes" the resolution of the massacre, which it described as "a direct attack on values held dear by both Filipinos and Canadians."

"Human rights, press freedom and free and fair elections are foundations of an inclusive democratic society, and they must be defended," it said, noting how the attack deprived those slain of their right to vote. 

The incident, which happened less than 6 months before the presidential elections in 2010, is regarded as the country's worst case of electoral violence, and the world's single deadliest attack on journalists. 

"The convictions of those primarily responsible for this dreadful incident is an important moment in the fight against impunity and political violence. We must constantly build upon successes, such as the one in this case, and continue to uphold justice, accountability and advance the rule of law," said the Canadian Embassy in Manila. 

The embassy extended its sympathies to families and friends of those slain, saying it "hopes that this verdict provides them some form of solace." 

The British Embassy in Manila, meanwhile, lauded the Philippine judiciary for seeing the case through its resolution. 

“Historic judgement today in a case that traumatized the nation. All credit to the efforts of the Philippine Judiciary to ensure procedural integrity in this complex and challenging case,” said UK Embassy in Manila Chargé d'affaires Alastair Totty in a post on the mission's Twitter page. 

US Ambassador to the Philippines Sung Kim called the ruling "an important step" towards holding liable those behind the mass killings. 

"Our hearts are with the victims and their families after the release of the #MaguindanaoMassacreVerdict. This is an important step towards accountability and justice," he said in a tweet. 

The European Union's delegation in Manila, meanwhile, reaffirmed its commitment to supporting efforts to quell impunity in the country. 

"Justice has been served for the victims and families of the #MaguindanaoMassacre. The #EU is committed to combating impunity for crimes against journalists & media workers everywhere. The #MaguindanaoMassacreVerdict is welcome news," said the bloc's mission in the Philippines in a Twitter post. 

The 2009 massacre had sent shockwaves around the world, with the international community calling for justice for those slain.