Philippines moves down two places in global impunity index
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
Philippines moves down two places in global impunity index
Xave Gregorio (Philstar.com) - October 29, 2020 - 5:51pm

MANILA, Philippines — The Philippines improved in the Committee to Protect Journalists’ (CPJ) global impunity index, moving down two places from the fifth worst country for journalists to the seventh, largely due to a technicality in the computation for the index.

The CPJ explained that the November 2009 Ampatuan, Maguindanao massacre — where 58 people were murdered including 32 media workers — no longer falls into the 10-year time frame for calculating the index, resulting in the Philippines becoming the “biggest mover” in the rankings.

But the CPJ remarked that even if the massacre still fell into the time frame, it still would not have figured into the index calculation as 28 people, including Datu Andal Ampatuan Jr. and his brother Zaldy Ampatuan, have been found guilty of 57 counts of murder in relation to the massacre.

Despite the CPJ acknowledging the convictions over the worst case of election-related violence in the Philippines’ history, it still noted that the case took a full decade to try and that Andal and Zaldy have appealed their convictions.

“In the Philippines’ labyrinthine and politicized legal system, their legal challenges could take several years to be tried and the possibility of their acquittal on appeal still looms large,” the CPJ said.

It also noted that a lot of the suspects in the gruesome massacre still remain free, including some Ampatuan clan members, which leaves room for possible reprisals against those who have pursued justice for the slain journalists.

Still unsolved

At the time the verdict was issued, 80 of the accused were still at large. Law enforcers have since arrested more suspects and trials have been set at the Quezon City Regional Trial Court Branch 221.

Following the verdict on the massacre, the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) classified it as “resolved,” only for it to backtrack and reclassify it as “ongoing/unresolved” following appeals from families of slain media victims and Filipino organizations and journalists.

UNESCO said it will keep calling the massacre as “ongoing/unresolved” until a final verdict is reached by Philippine courts.

The family of Reynaldo Momay, the 58th victim of the massacre whose murder case against all the suspects were junked as his body was never found, is also still seeking justice. They intend to raise to the Court of Appeals both the criminal and civil aspects of the case.

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