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TF on media slays to prioritize Maguindanao massacre

MANILA, Philippines - The Maguindanao massacre will be among the cases to be given priority in the probes to be conducted by the newly created task force on media killings, according to Justice Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre II.

In November 2009, 58 people, 32 of them media workers, were killed in the worst case of election violence in the country.

Aguirre is the chairman of the task force on violations to the media’s rights to life, liberty and security.

“The directive of President Duterte is that he wants these media killings solved and he wants to prevent whatever threats there are against the media,” Aguirre said yesterday.

He said he formally received the order to head the task force last Thursday.

Aguirre said he has yet to be updated on the latest developments in the case, whose seventh anniversary would be commemorated on Nov. 23.

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Prosecutors have filed murder charges against 95 suspects, including former Maguindanao governor Andal Ampatuan Sr. who died of liver cancer.

The victims – led by the wife of then Buluan vice mayor and now Maguindanao Gov. Esmael Mangudadatu – were en route to Shariff Aguak town to file Mangudadatu’s certificate of candidacy when they were stopped and murdered by more than a hundred men in the town of Ampatuan.

The attack was allegedly committed by the ruling Ampatuan clan led by Andal Jr., who was being challenged by Mangudadatu in the gubernatorial race.

The Ampatuans have denied involvement in the massacre.

“We would classify all the criminal cases made against the media such as those that are unsolved, the cases that have pending investigation, cases on trial and those that are on appeal,” Aguirre said.

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