Following appeal, UNESCO says Maguindano massacre case 'unresolved'
Relatives and supporters of victims of the country's worst political massacre light candles during a vigil at a park in Manila on December 18, 2019, on the eve of a court verdict in the case. The alleged masterminds of the Philippines' worst political massacre will learn their fate December 19 when a Manila court issues its verdict, in a test of the justice system for a nation with a deep-seated culture of impunity.
AFP/Ted Aljibe

Following appeal, UNESCO says Maguindano massacre case 'unresolved'

(Philstar.com) - September 25, 2020 - 12:16pm

MANILA, Philippines — The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) has classified the Maguindanao massacre cases as “ongoing/unresolved” from "resolved," following the appeal of families of slain media victims and Filipino organizations and journalists.

UNESCO Deputy Director-General Xing Qu said they have learned that appeals on the Maguindanao massacre cases have been launched.

Qu, UNESCO’s assistant director-general for Communication and Information, also said that the voices of the families of the victims should be taken into account “for the due process of law to be preserved in line with international human rights standards.”

“Based on this new information, the legal cases concerned will, therefore, be maintained as ‘ongoing/unresolved’ in the UNESCO Observatory of killed journalists, as well as in the upcoming ‘Director-General’s Report on Safety of Journalists and the Danger of Impunity’ until such a moment when a final verdict is reached by the Philippine judicial system,” the UNESCO official added.

This was the UNESCO’s response to a letter sent by Freedom for Media, Freedom for All Network, JUSTICE NOW—the organization of the families of the 32 slain journalists, and more than 100 individuals. FMFA includes the Center for Media Freedom and Responsibility, MindaNews, National Union of Journalists of the Philippines, Philippine Center for Investigative Journalism and the Philippine Press Institute.

FMFA: Maguindanao massacre case far from resolved

FMFA urged the UNESCO to review the earlier statement of its Assistant Director-General for Communication and Information Moez Chakchouk that the Maguindanao massacre is deemed “resolved.”

They asserted that case is far from resolved. “It is unfortunate that UNESCO’s conclusion appears to have relied solely upon government claims, without consideration for the other facts and contexts surrounding the case—a glaring oversight,” their letter to UNESCO read.

FMFA also said it is distressing that Chakchouk’s letter was used by the administration of President Rodrigo Duterte to paint a misleading picture of press freedom in the country when 16 journalists were killed under the present administration and Duterte continues to openly expresses his disdain for free and independent media.

The historic ruling and continuing quest for justice

The Quezon City Regional Trial Court Branch 221 on December 19 handed down its historic ruling on the gruesome 2009 massacre that found Datu Andal Ampatuan Jr. and his brother Zaldy guilty of 57 counts of murder. Dozen others were also found guilty for murder and as accessories to the crime.

Appeals have since been launched, including from the Ampatuans for the reversal of the guilty verdict.

The family of Reynaldo Momay, the 58th victim of the Ampatuan massacre but whose murder case against suspects was junked, filed a Notice of Appeals before the Quezon City court. This was to inform the court that they intend the raise to the Court of Appeals both the criminal and civil aspects of the case.

But the quest for justice continues as other suspects remain at large.

RELATED: 2 massacre suspects nabbed after Ampatuan verdict to face trial

At the time that Judge Jocelyn Solis-Reyes issued the ruling, 80 of the accused were still at large.

Law enforcers have since arrested more suspects and trials have been set at the QC court. — Kristine Joy Patag

As It Happens
LATEST UPDATE: March 18, 2020 - 2:39pm

The Maguindanao massacre is the world’s deadliest attack on journalists, 32 of the 58 victims in the massacre were members of the press. 

March 18, 2020 - 2:39pm

Another state witness in the 2009 Maguindanao massacre survived an ambush in Shariff Aguak town in Maguindanao on Tuesday.

The incident came just three months after the vice mayor of the same municipality was seriously wounded in a similar attack.

Muhammad Sangki and four companions were together in a van when gunmen shot at them with assault rifles in Shariff Aguak, Maguindanao.

The scene of the ambush is a short distance from the Maguindanao provincial hospital and the provincial police office.

The 56-year-old Sangki was one of the witnesses in the trial over the gruesome politically-motivated murder of 58 people in nearby Ampatuan town on November 23, 2009.

Sangki and his companions survived the attack unscathed.— The STAR/John Unson 


January 22, 2020 - 12:24pm

A policeman implicated in the 2009 massacre of 58 people in Ampatuan, Maguindanao surrendered on Tuesday.

PO1 Ysmael Baraguir—under the new Philippine National Police rank system, the equivalent rank is patrolman—yielded to the Criminal Investigation and Detection Group-Bangsamoro Region after 10 years in hiding.

He surrendered through the intercession of local officials and of Police Col. James Gulmatico, chief of the CIDG for the Bangsamoro region.

CIDG agents fetched Baraguir from an interior area in Pagalungan town in Maguindanao on Tuesday night.

He is now in the custody of the CIDG. —The STAR/John Unson

January 3, 2020 - 5:22pm

Datu Zaldy Ampatuan, former regional governor, appeals conviction by filing notice of appeal before Quezon City Regional Trial Court Branch 221,  which found him guilty of 57 counts of murder in December last year.

Zaldy will directly appeal the verdict to the Court of Appeals. — via Janvic Mateo, The STAR

January 2, 2020 - 5:28pm

Former Shariff Aguak, Maguindanao Mayor Anwar Ampatuan Sr. and his sons Anwar Jr. and Anwar Sajid appeal guilty verdict in Ampatuan Massacre case, The STAR's Janvic Mateo reports.

December 19, 2019 - 2:46pm

Although the guilty verdict on the massacre is welcome, members of the National Union of Journalists in the Philipines-Baguio and Benguet say all involved in the Nov.23, 2009 killings should be “brought to the bar of justice”.

"Justice will only be fully served when all of those involved and responsible are brought to the bar of justice," they say.

"But then this is just partial justice because many of the accused were acquitted while 80 more accused remain at large," NUJP-Baguio Benguet says, noting that “still impunity continues to reign that emboldens perpetrators and masterminds of gruesome attacks against journalists and the people knowing that they can escape unscathed.” — The STAR / Artemio Dumlao


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