Tomorrow, December 19, relatives of those who were slain in one of the worst election-related killings in our country, known as the Maguindanao massacre, will know whether justice for their kin will be meted out after waiting for 10 years.
The promulgation of the case, handled by Judge Jocelyn Solis-Reyes of Quezon City Regional Trial Court Branch 221, will take place inside the police’s Camp Bagong Diwa, Taguig City. Mindanews reported that relatives of the media victims who can’t make it to Taguig City will instead gather in General Santos City to watch the televised promulgation of judgment on the 58 counts of murder filed against 197 persons, including members of the Ampatuan clan that dominated Maguindanao politics until a decade ago.
In the recent commemoration held at the massacre site in sitio Masalay, Brgy. Salman, Ampatuan town, the children of the victims –some of whom were still babies during that time – fervently expressed their longing for justice and their dismay on the extension of the promulgation for 30 days.
Rowena Carranza, former secretary-general of the National Union of Journalists of the Philippines, however cautioned the relatives not to expect too much and to be ready for another set of challenges after the promulgation.
More than a hundred of the 197 accused, led by the principal suspect, former Shariff Aguak Mayor Andal “Datu Unsay” Ampatuan Jr., are due for sentencing. At least 80 other suspects remained at-large.
Other accused Ampatuans that include former Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) Governor Datu Zaldy Ampatuan and about a dozen other clan members are also facing potential life sentences. The clan’s accused patriarch, Andal Ampatuan Sr passed on July 17, 2015.
For the relatives of the 35 media workers slain, the waiting may be over but the pain of losing a love one in such a brutal manner will continue to linger. Nonetheless, we hope justice will prevail.