By Argyll Cyrus Geducos
Malacañang is staying hopeful that justice, which has been elusive for 10 years, will finally come for the victims of the Maguindanao massacre, the worst election-related case of violence in the Philippines.
In a statement, Communications Secretary Martin Andanar remembered and honored the victims of the Maguindanao Massacre which took 58 innocent lives in the name of political control by the Ampatuan clan on November 23, 2009 in the hills of Ampatuan town in Maguindanao province.
“We would like to continue to extend our sympathies to the families of the victims of this horrendous event. Our thoughts and prayers are with them as they seek justice. Let us all work together to ensure that nothing as appalling and as unjust as this ever happens again,” he said.
Earlier, Andanar expressed optimism that the families of the victims of the massacre will have a better Christmas this year as they look forward to a decision on the case before the year ends.
In his statement, Andanar reiterated that 10 years has been too long of a wait for the victims to get justice.
“Ten years of delayed justice is intolerable and ignominious. We are hopeful that the law will prevail and the court will rule in favor of the victims’ families putting an end to the injustice they have had to endure for years, as the decision on the case will be out soon,” he said.
Early this month, the Supreme Court (SC) extended the deadline for the ruling on the cases against Datu Andal “Unsay” Ampatuan Jr. and almost 200 others tagged in the massacre of 58 men and women in Maguindanao province a decade ago.
According to Andanar, the Duterte administration and the Presidential Task Force on Media Security (PTFoMS) will continue to perform their duties so that instances where brutal killings like the Maguindanao Massacre, will not go unpunished.
“We will work to prevent and put an end to attacks on journalists, who are simply fulfilling their obligations to disseminate truth and information to the public. In cases where they are harmed or killed, we will aim to deliver swift justice and make the perpetrators answer to the law,” he said.
The former broadcaster earlier said the upcoming verdict could be chalked up as among President Duterte’s legacies.
“This is another addition to President Duterte’s legacy, that one of the most despicable acts against journalists in the history of the world will finally come to a close during his term,” Andanar noted.
The Maguindanao massacre is widely regarded as the deadliest single-day attack on journalists in the world, as well as the worst election-related case of violence in recent Philippine history.
Of the 58 people who were killed, 32 were journalists who joined the convoy representing then-Buluan Vice Mayor Esmael “Toto” Mangudadatu, who had sent his wife and supporters to file his candidacy for governor against Andal Ampatuan Jr.
Justice Secretary and PTFoMS Chair Menardo Guevarra had been quoted as saying that he was confident that the prosecution would secure “a just decision at least as against the principal accused.”