GEN. SANTOS CITY, Philippines – The families of the victims of the 2009 Maguindanao massacre have called on the government to hasten the delivery of justice, saying more than enough time has passed to rest the case.
“Panawagan ko lang sa ating Pangulo na sana ibigay na sa amin ‘yung hustisya na hinihingi namin kasi sobra-sobra na ang binigay sa kanila [Ampatuans] na due process, so ang hinihingi naman nami ay due process naman para sa mga pamilya ng biktima,” said Eliver Cablitas during the candle lighting activity held in General Santos City on Tuesday, April 23.
(I am calling our President [Duterte] to give us justice. Too much due process had been afforded to them [Ampatuans]. Now we want a due process for the families of the victims.)
Eliver is the husband of Mindanao Focus reporter Maritess Cablitas who was among the 32 journalists killed during the massacre.
The Maguindanao massacre is considered the single deadliest attack against the press in history.
“So Mr. President, unta maluoy ka sa amoa sa mga pamilya sa biktima diri sa Mindanao kay kami nagalaom kanimo na ikaw taga Mindanao ug mahatagan nimo mi og sakto na hustisya para sa among mga minahal sa kinabuhi. Nagahinaot ko kay President Duterte na tagaan niyag ngipon ang atong balaod karon na mahatagan na unta og sayo ug dili na ipaabot na mahimo pang mag 10 years pa ta og sobra pa sa atong ginapaabot na hustisya,” he added.
(We ask for your compassion, Mr. President, especially to the families of the victims who are from Mindanao. We pin our hopes on you being someone from Mindanao to give justice to our families. I am hopeful President Duterte would provide teeth to our laws so that justice is rendered to us earlier. We are tired of waiting for justice to come and it has been nearly 10 years since the massacre happened.)
The victims’ kin hoped for the conviction of all accused as the Quezon City court is set to rule on the case this year.
“Sampung taon na po at wala pa po kaming nakitang hustisya, hindi namin alam kung magkakaroon na ng conviction sa taon na ito. At sa amin lahat na pamilya [ng mga biktima], hindi namin matatanggap na sa taong ito ay walang hustisyang makakamit dahil hindi po yun katanggap-tanggap sa amin,” said Grace Morales, wife of journalist Rossel Morales, in her speech during the event.
(It has been 10 years but we got no justice. We are not sure if conviction [of all the accused] will be rendered this year. Families of the victims could not accept if there will be no conviction this year.)
Principal suspect Andal Ampatuan, Jr. and 92 other accused are waiting for the verdict after years of trial of the case.
Authorities charged 197 persons in connection with the killing but only 117 were arrested while the case is being tried in court. Six suspects had already died while in detention, including the Ampatuan patriarch Andal Ampatuan Sr.
Emily Lopez, president of the group Justice Now Movement said justice remained elusive as they wait for the promulgation of the case.
The group also considers most of the accused as allies of the present administration and fears the decision might not be in favor or the victims.
The National Union of Journalists of the Philippines (NUJP) led last Tuesday’s candle-lighting ceremony for the victims as part of the countdown until the massacre’s 10th anniversary on November 23 this year.
Journalists from parts of Mindanao joined the families of the victims during the ceremony as the also made a call to the government to end impunity in the country.
The group plans to hold gatherings in every 23rd day of the month and aims to keep the public informed about the gruesome killings that took place nine years ago. (davaotoday.com)