Police investigators look for evidence next to a backhoe after a vehicle and human remains were dug up from a shallow grave in the town of Ampatuan, Maguindanao in a Nov. 25, 2009 file photo. Andal Ampatuan Jr. (inset) is the principal accused in the massacre.
AFP
‘Justice worth the wait’
Edu Punay (The Philippine Star) - November 3, 2019 - 12:00am

MAGUINDANAO MASSACRE:

MANILA,Philippines — Maguindanao second district Rep. Esmael “Toto” Mangudadatu yesterday expressed optimism on the imminent conclusion of the massacre recorded as the deadliest attack on journalists in history.

The lawmaker, whose wife and two sisters were among the 58 victims killed allegedly by the Ampatuan family and their private army on Nov. 23, 2009, said he believes the long wait for justice will be “worth it.”

“It has been 10 long, debilitating years but we remain optimistic that justice will be ours. It is not easy for us who lost our loved ones to wait this long. At some point, some of us have lost faith that we will ever see justice. But God has been good in making us realize that the wait will be all worth it,” Mangudadatu said in a statement.

“We remain steadfast, continue praying for justice,” the former governor stressed.

Mangudadatu welcomed the recent decision of the Quezon City Regional Trial Court Branch 221 to deny the bid of the principal accused, former Datu Unsay mayor Andal Ampatuan Jr., to reopen the case that is already due for decision due to a supposed plan of key witness Sakurno Badal to recant his testimony against the accused.

The lawmaker said he felt relieved by the court’s decision, saying he and other families of victims “have been patiently waiting for the verdict.”

“It is not new to me for the suspects to resort to such tactics. But I will remain steadfast in trusting that justice shall prevail and that the system is working for the just,” Mangudadatu pointed out.

He issued the statement after Judge Jocelyn Solis-Reyes recently issued a ruling denying Ampatuan’s motion to reopen the trial and to suspend promulgation of judgment in the case.

Through lawyer Paul Laguata, Ampatuan claimed that Badal has supposedly sent feelers to their camp allegedly expressing his willingness to recant his testimony.

But the prosecution presented Badal to the court last Oct. 17, where he denied the Ampatuan camp’s claim.

Badal told the court that he made the decision a long time ago that he will never withdraw or change his testimony even if it costs him his life.

Badal, a suspect-turned-state-witness, testified that as early as 2009, the Ampatuan clan had plotted to eliminate Mangudadatu after the latter conveyed his interest to run against Ampatuan for the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao gubernatorial seat. 

He also testified that during the day of the massacre, he overhead the late former Maguindanao governor Andal Ampatuan Sr. ordering his son and namesake to kill everyone, including members of media who were covering the filing of Mangudadatu’s candidacy via his wife accompanied by his sisters.

The Department of Justice (DOJ)  earlier expressed confidence that prosecutors were able to present strong testimonial and material evidence to secure the conviction of Ampatuan.

The DOJ expects the verdict to be rendered by the RTC this month in time for the 10th year anniversary of the massacre.

MAGUINDANAO MASSACRE
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