Kin of Maguindanao massacre victims to appeal for higher damage fees, says Roque
Relatives and press freedom advocates hold up photos of the Ampatuan massacre victims at a press conference after the promulgation of the verdict in the case on December 19, 2019. Cagadas Jr.

Kin of Maguindanao massacre victims to appeal for higher damage fees, says Roque

Kristine Joy Patag ( - January 3, 2020 - 4:24pm

MANILA, Philippines — Kin of the 2009 Maguindanao massacre victims will seek higher damage fees from the convicted Ampatuans, their lawyer said Friday.

In a statement, Harry Roque said they will appeal for damage fees to be awarded to be victims, citing the horror of the crime and the state of the victims’ bodies when they were identified.

Quezon City Regional Trial Court Branch 221 Judge Jocelyn Solis-Reyes sentenced the principal convicts of up to 40 years in prison without parole, and were ordered to pay a total of over P155.6 million in damages to heirs of 57 victims.

Roque said that they will appeal the damages awarded to 17 of victims’ families as they feel they should be given “substantially more.”

“For instance, moral damages should not just be 100,000 given the state of the remains of the victims’ loved ones when they identified them at the crime scene,” he said.

Roque added: “Civil indemnity should be more than 100,000 as human lives should cost more than this. And exemplary damages should be more than 100,000 to send the message that the State will not tolerate the killing of journalists.”

The convicts—including five prominent members of the Ampatuan clan—were directed to pay the families of each victims P100,000 in civil indemnity, P100,000 in moral damages and P100,000 in exemplary damages.

The court granted the plea for actual damages of the death of 12 of the 57 victims. Those who would not be awarded actual damages will be awarded P50,000 in temperate damages.

“We maintain that all our clients, and not just one, should be awarded at least 20 million in damages,” Roque also said.

The damages may only be awarded to the heirs of the victims when the decision is considered final, or when the Supreme Court affirmed the verdict.

Some of the murder convicts, the Ampatuans deemed as principal suspects in the case, started filing their bid to overturn the decision before the lower court or the Court of Appeals.

‘Zaldy should not be brought back to private hospital’

Roque also said they will oppose if former regional governor Zaldy Ampatuan will ask the court to be transferred to a private hospital.

“Doctors should determine if Zaldy Ampatuan needs medical assistance. If so, Muntinlupa is very well equipped to care for him,” he said.

Roque added: “What we will object to is another hospital confinement in a posh private hospital.”

Zaldy, through his lawyers, has asked the court if he may be transferred to the New Bilibid Prison infirmary from his cell.

In their pleading, the former regional governor’s lawyers noted that prior to the court conviction, Zaldy was confined for 58 days at the Makati Medical Center, a week of which was spent in the intensive care unit.

He was rushed to the hospital after suffering a stroke in October. Zaldy was said to have suffered a stroke three times in a span of two months, and was said to have hypertension, diabetes mellitus and chronic atrial fibrillation.

His lawyers asked that Zaldy be moved to the Bilibid infirmary “to receive the therapy, rehabilitation and medication prescribed by his doctors, and so as not to unduly put his health in jeopardy.”

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