maguindanao massacre
In this file photo taken November 2018, families and journalists gather in Ampatuan, Maguindanao to mark the ninth year since the massacre. de Santos

Mangudadatu confident of guilty verdict in Ampatuan massacre case

Franco Luna ( - December 11, 2019 - 2:53pm

MANILA, Philippines — Rep. Esmael Mangudadatu (Maguindanao, 2nd District) said Wednesday that the primary accused in the Ampatuan massacre case will be found guilty once the decision comes out on December 19. 

"In my mind, talagang may solid verdict na guilty sila. Sigurado kami na may conviction yan," Mangudadatu said on ANC's "Headstart."

Mangudadatu lost his wife, sisters, a cousin and an aunt, as well as members of his staff in the November 23, 2009 massacre.

The Mangudadatus were on their way to Shariff Aguak town in Maguindanao to file his certificate of candidacy for governor against Andal Ampatuan Jr., the primary accused in the case. The convoy included journalists covering the planned filing. 

The convoy was ambushed before they got there. 

"It was really 'Unsay' who executed the 58 people doon sa Masalay," he asserted anew, referring to Andal, who was the mayor of Datu Unsay at the time of the massacre. 

"Broad daylight ginawa yung massacre. Siya mismo nag-abot ng baril." 

(The massacre happened in broad daylight. It was him who handed the men their guns.) 

'Litmus test of our laws'

Maguindanao also said that the allies of those suspected were likely going to try to hamper the case further through the Court of Appeals. 

"They will rattle the minds of the judges in filing mga motions. Hindi ako abogado, pero gagawin nila yan," he said. 

"Sana naman di kami mawalan ng lakas ng loob lumaban, including the families of victims. Ito ang pinaka-litmus test ng batas natin. Makikita natin yan."

(They will rattle the minds of the judges in filing motions. I'm not a lawyer, but they will do that. I hope we don't lose the will to fight, including the families of the victims. This is the litmus test of our laws. We'll see that.) 

Ahead of the anniversary of the massacre, the families of the kin along with media members went back to the site of the killings in Sitio Masalay in Ampatuan town, Maguindanao, to call for justice. 

Such was one of the arguments of media groups in pushing for a live coverage of the decision's promulgation. The petition asserted that some of the victims' kin who were based in Maguindanao would not be able to travel to Manila for the promulgation. 

Earlier on November 15, the House solon threatened that he would resign from Congress if the High Court would not issue a favorable ruling. 

The Maguindanao representative also said that the Supreme Court decision to allow live coverage of the ruling was one sign that justice would be served. 

"I'm not saying the Supreme Court is [outright] telling us that we have a positive result," he explained. 

"But in our sight, [...] malinaw naman na yung mga witnesses namin and the evidence presented before the court are really vital and very solid."

The decade-old case has been tagged as the worst election-related killings in the Philippines. 

Quezon City Regional Trial Court Branch 221 was scheduled to release a decision in November until Judge Jocelyn Solis-Reyes asked the Supreme Court for a 30-day extension of the deadline. The verdict is set to come out on December 19. 

In tears, Mangudadatu narrated that after numerous kidnapping attempts since the incident, he was forced to put his children through their schooling under different family names for their safety. He said it was his faith that kept him going through the years. 

"Habang-buhay ko hahanaping ko [ang hustisya]," he said. 

(I'll be looking for justice all my life.) 

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