Families of Maguindanao massacre victims seek dialogue with Duterte


MAGUINDANAO, Philippines - Gov. Esmael Mangudadatu and relatives of the 58 victims of the Nov. 23, 2009 Maguindanao massacre are seeking a dialogue on the case with President Rodrigo Duterte.

“We have already informed people close to him about our wish for a dialogue. I’m pretty sure President Duterte will respond positively,” Mangudadatu said on Thursday.

Among the 58 people who perished in the massacre, in what could be the country’s worst election-related violence ever, were the governor’s wife, Genalyn and several members of the Mangudadatu clan.

The massacre, allegedly perpetrated by members of Maguindanao’s then dreaded Ampatuan clan and their private militia, also left 32 journalists dead.

“We want to hear from President Duterte his official position on the massacre case and his commitment to help us in our quest for justice,” Mangudadatu said.

Mangudadatu said Duterte, while still mayor of Davao City, provided them legal advices on how to pursue the criminal cases against leaders of the Ampatuan clan implicated in the massacre.

“Now he is already president, we want to hear from him his commitment of support,” Mangudadatu said.

Mangudadatu said he and relatives of other victims in the carnage are convinced the alleged plotters of the massacre, now incarcerated and undergoing litigation, might be convicted even before President Duterte’s term ends in 2021.

“Our president was a former prosecutor. We are confident it would be easier for us to achieve justice now that he is at the helm of the national government, knowing well his experience in handling criminal cases,” Mangudadatu said.

Mangudadatu, now in his third and last term as Maguindanao governor, said he and relatives of other victims of the massacre are still waiting for the president’s answer to their request for a dialogue.

“We are confident justice will no longer be as elusive as ever now that with President Duterte is there in Malacañang,” Mangudadatu said.

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