Quest for justice continues 12 years after Maguindanao massacre

ABS-CBN News

Posted at Nov 23 2021 02:43 PM

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MANILA – The quest for justice continues 12 years after the death of 58 victims, including 32 journalists, in the Maguindanao massacre—now considered as the worst case of political violence in the Philippines.

 Relatives wait as police recover dead bodies along a hillside grave in Ampatuan municipality, Maguindanao province, southern Philippines, November 24, 2009. Aaron Favila, AP/File
Relatives wait as police recover dead bodies along a hillside grave in Ampatuan municipality, Maguindanao province, southern Philippines, November 24, 2009. Aaron Favila, AP/File

Len Olea, secretary-general of the National Union of Journalists in the Philippines, said that despite the conviction of 43 suspects in December 2019, the families of the victims have yet to receive their compensation.

“The conviction is on appeal, so even the civil liabilities naka-ano, pending pa 'yan. So the families of the Ampatuan massacre victims have not yet received any, anything yet, after the brutal murder,” she noted on ANC’s “Rundown.”

“So we still continue to be vigilant, and of course we do not want a repeat of the Ampatuan massacre so we continue campaigning for justice, and we also call on the public to dismantle the political dynasties, and resist all forms of attacks on the Philippine media,” she said.

Fifty-six suspects were acquitted in the decision handed down by the Quezon City Regional Trial Court in 2019. Some 80 accused remain at large.

Grace Morales--whose husband Rosell and sister Maritess Cablitas were among those slain in the single deadliest incident for journalists in the world—also lamented the apparent lack of justice for the family of Reynaldo Momay. 

Momay was the journalist said to have been part of the convoy hit by the Ampatuans and their men, but his body was never found. He was named the 58th victim, but in the court’s decision, the accused were only convicted of 57 counts of murder.

“Medyo halo-halo na kasi yung naramdaman namin. May mga persons na gusto naming i-convict na nakalabas, which is na, medyo masakit tanggapin para sa amin yun pero ginagawan naman ng paraan ng lawyer namin sa ngayon.”

“May ano lang, medyo disappointed sa puntong hindi naisama yung case ni Reynaldo 'Bebot' Momay kasi in-expect talaga namin na masama siya, kasi yung victims naman is 58, hindi 57.”

Nevertheless, the conviction of the principal suspects in the bloody massacre is important to her and her family, she said.

“Importanteng ma-convict sila, importanteng mapagbayaran nila yung kahayupang ginawa nila para sa amin na mga naiwang biktima kasi yung buhay ng mga mahal namin sa buhay ay hindi naman dapat mawala nang ganoon-ganoon lang.”

“Pwede naman silang mawala sa ordinaryong paraan o simpleng paraan, hindi sa brutal na paraan katulad ng ginawa nila,” she said.

“Napakasakit yung ginawa nila, nagbigay yun ng trauma hindi lang sa mga bata, kahit na sa ibang mga magulang, lalong-lalo na sa mga nanay na naiwan na umaasa lang din doon sa mga tulong ng mga anak, na inaabot ng mga anak,” Morales added.

“Dapat mapanagutan or dapat nilang pagbayaran yun para maging lesson na rin sa iba na hindi dapat maulit yung pangyayaring ganoon.”

“Kasi hindi naman tama na pinapatay yung media na gumagawa lang ng trabaho,” she said.

--ANC, 23 November 2021