Benzar Ampatuan was among the 14 Ampatuan family members criminally charged in 2015 in connection to the massacre on Nov. 23, 2009. de Santos
Ampatuan clan member: We're hoping the judge sees fairness
Ratziel San Juan ( - December 19, 2019 - 11:32am

MANILA, Philippines — Tahirudin “Benzar” Ampatuan, a former mayor of Mamasapano in Maguindanao and the grandson of Andal Ampatuan Sr., said that he hopes for a favorable ruling on the decade-long Ampatuan massacre case.

“The long wait is over. For the past 10 years, masyado na pong matagal 'yon. So we're hoping na kung sana po makita ni judge 'yung fairness,” Benzar said in an interview with PTV.

(For the past 10 years, that’s too long. So we’re hoping that the judge rules with fairness.)

“Sana makita rin ng lahat na hindi porket akusado ka, 'yun na 'yun. Meron po tayong rule of law so kailangan lang po natin sundin.”

(I hope that everyone sees that an accusation isn’t final. We still have to abide by the rule of law.)

Benzar was among 14 Ampatuan family members criminally charged in 2015 in connection to the massacre on Nov. 23, 2009.

Marked the single deadliest attack on journalists, 32 of the 58 victims in the massacre were members of the press. The victims were part of a convoy led by Genalyn Mangudadatu, wife of then-Buluan vice mayor and now Maguindanao Rep. Esmael Mangudadatu.

They were on their way to cover Genalyn's filing of the certificate of candidacy of her husband at the provincial capitol in Shariff Aguak when they were stopped and murdered by more than 100 armed men.

Andal “Datu Unsay” Ampatuan Jr. is the primary accused among the 197 suspects charged over the massacre. Other members of the Ampatuan clan—including its patriarch Andal Sr. who died in 2015—were charged with 58 counts of murder.

Human Rights Watch said the lack of convictions since the massacre is due to long-standing systemic issues like political dynasties and corrupt police that remain in place after a decade.

“The 2009 massacre prompted calls to fix the Philippines’ political, criminal and judicial systems. While there have been efforts at judicial reform, legacies of dysfunction in the country remain alive and well,” read a report by HRW Asia Division researcher Carlos Conde.

“Political dynasties still rule, particularly in rural areas like Maguindanao. The police remain corrupt and inefficient, and President Rodrigo Duterte’s administration has done nothing to change that.”

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