MANILA - Lawyers of the Maguindanao massacre victims are planning to have several Ampatuan properties frozen to ensure that the masterminds of the Philippines' most violent election-related case will pay damages to the victims' families.
The court on Thursday convicted 5 of 7 Ampatuan family members tagged as principal suspects in the historic carnage.
"We now have to search for assets. We need to freeze these assets and when the decision becomes final, have them seized and given to the victims," Harry Roque, one of the legal counsels of the Maguindanao massacre victims, told ANC's Headstart.
Under the court's ruling, each of the 57 victims are entitled to receive about P1 million in damages, he said.
"Not that it is enough to compensate for the loss of life but I think it is a reasonable compensation to be given to the family given the gruesome manner they were killed," he said.
Roque's camp has coordinated with Mindanews journalist Carolyn Arguillas to use her investigative report on the Ampatuans' alleged ill-gotten wealth as basis for seizure orders.
"Using that investigative report, we filed plunder cases against the Ampatuans hoping pending cases in the Sandiganbayan could preserve these assets," the lawyer said.
In 2017, the Ombudsman filed a forfeiture case against late Maguindanao governor Andal Ampatuan Sr. - who was also one of the suspects in massacre - over unexplained assets amounting to P54.966 million.
Investigations found that Ampatuan Sr. - a former governor of the country's third poorest province - owned 19 real estate properties, 35 motor vehicles worth P45.7 million and 23 undeclared firearms worth P3.838 million.
Ampatuan denied owning the vehicles, and claimed that he inherited his wealth from his father Hadji Aguak Ampatuan, who was an “affluent man in Magonoy (Sharrif Aguak)”.