CAGAYAN DE ORO CITY, Philippines — Media organizations here have applauded the Regional Trial Court in Quezon City for finding the principal suspects and others who were accused of perpetrating the Ampatuan massacre guilty on Thursday (Dec. 19).
The Cagayan de Oro Press Club (COPC), in a statement, expressed jubilation over the guilty verdict handed down by Judge Jocelyn Solis-Reyes during the culmination of the multiple murder cases that took a decade to be decided on.
“The COPC is elated with the guilty verdict on the people behind the 10-year-old Ampatuan massacre, especially the masterminds of the worst election-related violence in the country,” said Ritchie Salloman, COPC president.
Salloman said, “We expected nothing less than a conviction of the individuals who killed 58 people, 32 of whom were our colleagues in media.”
“We call on the Phil. National Police to serve the warrants of arrest of arrest of the suspects who are still at large by Judge Solis-Reyes,” he added.
Now that the many of the accused will remain behind bars, Salloman said it is also high time for the government to look into the other cases of media-related killings and other abuses against the members of the press all over the country.
Pamela Jay Orias, a reporter for a local daily and chairperson of the National Union of Journalists of the Philippines (NUJP) chapter in Cagayan de Oro, said the conviction of many of the principal suspects is the best gift that the families of the victims have received this Christmas.
“I’m sure their (families of victims) Christmas is joyful because of the decision. I hope they can now sleep soundly at night knowing that justice has finally been served,” Orias said.
Those who were found guilty by the court for 57 counts of murder were members of the Ampatuan clan including Andal “Unsay” Ampatuan Jr., Anwar Sajid “Datu Ulo” Ampatuan, Anwar “Datu Ipi” Ampatuan Jr., and Datu Zaldy Ampatuan.
Those convicted were also ordered by the court to pay civil indemnity, moral damages, exemplary damages, and loss of earning capacity in varying amounts to the surviving families of the victims. (davaotoday.com)